Can Clients Record Coaching Sessions?
It’s happened two times in the last few years where clients want to record coaching sessions. The first time, the client asked upfront and plopped a recording device on the table. His rationale was it was easier for him to record than to take notes. He liked to review the recordings afterward in private.
Personally, I did not have a problem with him recording the sessions. The coaching advice I gave him would be the same no matter what.
Fast forward several years – it’s my second session with a different coaching client. At the end of our session, he asks if I mind him recording the sessions and waves his pen in the air. As it turns out, the pen is a recording device. No doubt he has recorded both sessions without informing me about it.
Record Coaching Sessions: Ethical Considerations
Let’s be honest, no one likes to be recorded without their knowledge. The coaching relationship is built on trust and if you are being sneaky about something, you risk poisoning your progress. When trust is broken, recovery is difficult.
The coach may ask, “What you are going to do with the recordings?” or “How are you going to use the information” or “Will the conversations remain private?”
You may think these are not relevant questions – but they are. For example, the coach may not approve of the session being made public.
Recording Conversations: Legal Implications
New York State is one of thirty-eight states that have a one-party consent law and applies to conversations where all parties are within the state. The gist of this law is that as long as one party consents to the recording (that includes the party recording) the recording is legal.
Twelve states require the consent of all parties prior to recording conversations which is referred to as a two-party consent law.
Where things get complicated is when conversations over the phone involve multi-state parties because every state views recordings differently.
Let’s add another layer of complication – the federal law follows the one-party consent law too – 18 USC § 2511 – Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited. It is not always clear if the federal or state laws have precedence.
Recording Coaching Sessions: Best Practices
Some coaches outline in their agreements if clients can record coaching sessions and under what terms. Absent that information, I recommend discussing your request to record coaching sessions before you sign the coaching agreement.