“Can I Coach A Close Friend?”

Answering a question on boundaries and relationships in the coaching world.

Toku McCree


Photo by Jarritos Mexican Soda on Unsplash

If you’re a coach for any length of time the question about who you should and shouldn’t coach will come up. Eventually you’ll either want to coach a close friend or family member or they’ll want to work with you. But can you or should you do this?

Recently a coach posted the following question in a community forum I’m a part of:​

What are your thoughts about coaching close friends/ having them participate in programs you facilitate?

And here was my response.​..

I think this is dicey at best (This is coming from someone who coaches their own father soooooooo….. 😱😱😱😱😱)​

I think it’s 100% possible but you need to get very clear on a few things:​

Priorities — If the friendship/relationship is the priority how will you deal with it if the coaching impacts the friendship. What’s the bail/pull the chord agreement?

The last time I was in business/coaching a close friend we agreed beforehand the friendship mattered more to us than our business. Which made a HUGE difference when he wanted to bail suddenly. I could have held it against him, but I reminded myself of what we had said. I let the business go and kept the friendship and our relationship was even stronger as a result.

Confidentiality — How will you handle information inside/outside the container? Can you ask questions or reference things you know about them as a friend? Or can you only talk about things that get brought up in the group? If it’s the latter, how are you going to navigate that?

If things get brought up in the group can you talk about them inside your friendship? And how are you going to make sure things stay sealed?

I’m very clear with my father that I won’t bring up coaching things outside of our coaching, but sometimes things do come up when we spend time as a family. For me the line is to reference things only in an energetic sense, but never directly. Luckily he generally talks about things like business with us in a family setting as well, so I trust us in how to navigate…



Toku McCree

Executive coach and writer. I’ve toured with rock bands, trained as a zen monk, and taught preschool. My hope is that my writing makes you think.