Trust in Coaching

Trust in Coaching

What does Trust mean to you? How does it show up in your different relationships? I used to think you had to build trust and then I came across the work of Rachel Botsman. She says in every relationship dynamic there is always a Trust Giver and a Trust Receiver.


The Trust Giver is assessing whether they should trust the other person or not. The Trust Receiver is waiting for the arrival of the other person’s trust. Rachel says that when it comes to power and choice, trust is in the hands of the Trust Giver. She highlights that the Trust Receiver cannot build trust and has no power or agency over the Trust Giver who holds all the cards.


Rachel draws analogies with how caregivers (Trust Givers) interact with their kids. We tell our children that trust has to be earned – “You need to earn my trust if you want to walk home from school on your own.” She says Trust is energy, a continuous process, and ever-changing. When focussing on a trust environment it is important to consider external factors such as expectations and daily agreements.

I like how David Richo conceptualizes the loss of Trust in his book, Daring to Trust. Trust does not have to end the way a bear dies, impossible to resuscitate. It can end the way a bear hibernates, able to be reanimated given the right conditions and a suitable lapse of time.


David goes on to talk about how The Five As will allow for intimacy and trust. Trust happens when we rely on the one who loves us to:

  1. Pay ATTENTION to us
  2. ACCEPT us as we are
  3. APPRECIATE and value us
  4. Show us AFFECTION in appropriate ways
  5. ALLOW us to live freely without attempting to control us


As well as teaching on the Certified Holistic Coach course I am currently developing a Certified Relationship Coach course launching on 1st April 2023. One part of the syllabus involves putting together exercises that may be used in individual, couple, or group coaching environments. These exercises must come from a non-judgemental place, and allow clients to connect more deeply with themselves. From an increased level of personal knowledge and understanding they can create the life they want.

Problem-solving without judgement is a skill of mine. I write the monthly Relationship Column for DIVA Magazine and provide advice and guidance to readers. I enjoy simplifying the situation so they can gain clarity and move forwards. I keep my problem-solving muscles toned by contributing to various Facebook forums. Recently a woman was sharing about how her partner had broken her trust (text edited to protect anonymity).

My partner and I have “1 strike and you’re out” when it comes to cheating. We discussed what cheating is, not just sex, but knowingly flirting, hiding messages, not dancing with people on nights out. Yesterday he went out drinking for the first time since we got together. We discussed beforehand that I was happy for him to go out and that I wouldn’t stop him. He asked if I had any bad experiences with previous partners going out. I said I’ve had guys cheat on me on nights out, and he reassured me he would never go near a girl on a night out.

While out he messaged me a few times saying, “I love you so much. I’d never do anything to hurt you.” I chuckled and said, “I love you too. What’s up? That makes you sound guilty.” He then goes, “I danced with a few girls. But don’t worry I’m already friends with them.” I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want to argue. What would you do in this situation?

Some things that that are irrelevant but you may think are important:

  1. How long they have been together – time is arbitrary and relationships are no more valid the longer they go on for.
  2. This is the first time it has happened – we must focus on right as you cannot accurately predict future behaviour from past behaviour.
  3. She asks what you would do – this is irrelevant as it is about finding the right thing for her.
  4. That he was “only” dancing with a girl – the impact of this on her and on their relationship is not your judgement to make.

Some things that are relevant:

  1. Her withdrawal when a difficult conversation arises – is this usual? Does she want to act differently?
  2. Cognitive Distortions like “never” and “should” – these are expectations and promises that have not been unpacked enough.

In the framework of Richo’s five As, this could be the situation:

  1. He is not paying ATTENTION to his own promises or her wishes regarding not dancing with another girl
  2. He does not ACCEPT that she has been cheated on before
  3. He cannot APPRECIATE his own and her boundaries
  4. AFFECTION shows up with his texts and check-ins, and is met with her saying she loves him but then showing her insecurities and withdrawal
  5. ALLOWANCE is something they are struggling with in terms of finding the line of behaviour acceptability

In my response to her I suggested the following:

There are (at least) two things going on here.

  1. The relationship agreements you have with your partner.
  2. How your history feeds into your emotional responses.

With the First, perhaps get even clearer with him on your boundaries (your yes and nos, wants and needs). This means telling him clearly what the consequences are of crossing your boundaries, and then sticking to them if he crossed them. Obviously boundaries can be altered when new information arises, as long as you keep feeling safe and loved. With the Second, do you want to use this relationship to write a new future for you, where you can take a leap of faith and build deeper trust? It sounds like such a painful situation. There is a healthy way forward, it just needs finding together.

She could start with finding out what her relationship with Trust is, and how she would like to cultivate it to take her current relationship into a place that feels healthy and happy. There is also some work needed on differentiating between rules and agreements, see my blog post on Setting and Maintaining Boundaries for definitions.

Trust is an ongoing practice, there will always be peaks and troughs. Trust deserves the status of a Relationship Value and needs the attention it demands. As coaches we get the joy of helping our clients purposefully navigate their way forwards and leave a positive legacy for those around them.


Ali Hendry, Education Director (Europe)
Radiant Coaches Academy



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