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When a Client Asks Questions Outside of Your Scope of Practice

What do you do when a client asks questions outside of your scope of practice? 

As a coach, how would you navigate that? This is critical to understand what the next best steps are to take.

Hi, I’m Coach Lilly. I am the director of training and coach development here at Body Brain Alliance, and if you’ve had that moment before, then this blog is for you. 

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Scope of practice is extremely important, not only for protecting yourself legally as a coach in whatever field you are in, but to also serve our clients in an ethical manner. 


When we are helping clients reach their goals and create actions and behaviors towards the life they want to live, we want to be able to do that in an ethical, moral, and safe manner. 

If we step out of scope, that is where things can get very tricky. 


They can get unsafe, unethical, and of course, it can result in a lot of harm.


As coaches, we may be experts in our fields, but we are not experts in all fields. That’s important to embrace. 

When we are approaching these conversations, it’s also important to assume that the clients don’t know what is within your scope and what is not. 


It is our responsibility to hold these healthy boundaries and teach our clients where necessary, what falls within our wheelhouse and what doesn’t. 


When we face a situation where a client is asking us for something or a need for a service that falls outside of our scope of practice, we can follow these 3 steps to appropriately communicate to our clients. 


1. Tell them that the specific thing they are asking you for or discussing falls outside your scope. 


You can say something like, “Unfortunately, that falls outside my scope of practice, or outside of my wheelhouse, unfortunately.”

2. Provide them a resource that can better assist them. 

Something like, “Unfortunately, that falls outside my scope of practice, but something like therapy, a dietician, or your PCP (primary care provider) would be a great resource for helping you navigate that.”


Sometimes as coaches; we have more knowledge on what scope of practice other professionals have and clients don’t. So we can provide that insight to them so they can take the steps necessary to navigate obtaining that support. 

3. Provide them with something that does fall within our scope of practice.

So this may look like, “Unfortunately, that falls outside my scope and the best resource to navigate that would be a dietician, and that is what I recommend. However, you did mention X, and that is something I can help with.”


What this does is it prevents you from leaving them hanging without steps on what to do next. 


You are meeting them where they are. Providing them a resource of what they can do instead of that specific thing they’re mentioning. Then you can provide them something that is within your scope so that you still feel like the conversation or the check-in is impactful and helpful for them to move forward.


By following this example, this can be a great way to hold a boundary, protect yourself and the client, and still provide them with some kind of direction on what you can assist them with. 

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Thank you for reading, see you in the next one! 

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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.


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