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Legal obligations as a coach/counsellor

When you want to start your own practice as a coach/counsellor in the Netherlands, you will have to comply with some legal obligations. We have listed the most important regulations for you below, so that you can get started well prepared.

Please note that these rules are only applicable in The Netherlands. If you want to practise in another country, please look into the local rules and regulations. For more information on using your acquired skills internationally, please check our webpage Using your diploma Internationally.


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, in Dutch: AVG) came into effect in May 2018. This law regulates the protection of personal data. When you work in a private practice (in other words: with clients as a self-employed coach/counsellor), you will invariably be dealing with the processing of their personal data. It is very important that you do this carefully.

You can read what is expected of you in this regard on the website of the Dutch Data Protection Authority (Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens) and the European Data Protection Board (EDPB). We refer you to those sites for the latest information. In the meantime we, the following guideline is important to keep in mind:

Who can save data?
Under the condition of point 2 below, you are allowed to save (regular) data when one of the following conditions applies:

  • You have the consent of the person of whom you are saving the data.
  • It is necessary to process the data to execute an agreement.
  • It is necessary to process the data because you are legally obliged to do so.
  • It is necessary to process the data to protect vital interests.
  • It is necessary to process the data to perform a task of public interest or public authority.
  • It is necessary to process the data in order to pursue your legitimate interest.

It is important to notify your client of the processing of his data and for what reason you are doing so exactly (at least one of the grounds above). You can do this in the client agreement and/or for example in a privacy statement on your website (the latter is not compulsory).

Which data can you save?
There is a difference between ‘regular data’, such as name, contact details, age/d.o.b. etc., and so called ‘special data’. You are allowed to save the first category, but the special data are basically always off-limits, unless you comply with certain very strict conditions. This concerns the following special data:

  • personal data showing race or ethnic origin;
  • personal data showing political views;
  • personal data showing religious or ideological beliefs;
  • personal data showing membership of a trade union;
  • data about a person’s health;
  • data about a person’s sexual behaviour or sexual orientation;
  • genetic data;
  • biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a person;
  • data concerning the person’s criminal records or convictions.

Professional associations / WKKGZ

When you start your own practice as a coach/counsellor in the Netherlands, you are an official caregiver in complementary care. Since January 1, 2017, this means that you are subject to the Healthcare Quality Complaints Act (WKKGZ). This law was introduced to provide greater transparency about complaints and undesirable events in healthcare. It obliges every healthcare provider to offer clients access to a complaints officer and a dispute resolution body.

What does this mean for you?
If you follow our training programme for your own interest/personal development or to apply the acquired skills in your current job (working for an employer), and you will not work with clients on an independent basis, you are not obliged to do anything.

  • If you are going to work in a private practice as a coach/counsellor, you will be considered to be a healthcare provider under the WKKGZ, and you must be affiliated with an organisation / professional association that offers a complaints officer and a dispute resolution body.
  • Are you already affiliated with an organization/professional association? Then please check whether it offers a complaints officer and dispute resolution body that has been assessed by the public health inspection. Should that not be the case, you will have to join another organization that does.

For more information about professional associations, please click here.

Trial clients
During our training programme, you will work with trial/test clients. If you do not yet meet the conditions of the WKKGZ, you may not ask money from these clients. Always inform your clients in advance that you are still in training and are working under the supervision of a teacher.


As a self-employed person, you may have to deal with the Employment Relationship Deregulation Act (WDBA). This is the case if you are taking on an assignment as a contractor (self-employed person) with an employer/company, but are not becoming an official employee of said business. In that case, the government wants to make sure that the assignment is not actually a “disguised salaried employment”. This happens sometimes when employers want to dodge social benefit schemes and other obligations that come with contractual employment. This law was created to prevent this and to protect employees. It is important that clear arrangements are drafted about this in the agreement between the contractor and the employer.

Note: there is quite a bit of turmoil surrounding this law. The government has announced that it will introduce new measures. This may happen on January 1, 2021. At least until then, the foregoing applies and you should arrange this properly.

Not mandatory, but advisable: liability insurance

When you start your own practice as a coach/counsellor, it is advisable to take out business liability insurance (in Dutch: bedrijfsaansprakelijkheidsverzekering). This will covers the damage caused to your clients while keeping practice. This includes for example damage to their possessions or themselves while at your facility, such as tripping over a carpet or bumping their heads. Such liability will not be covered by your private liability insurance. We therefore advise you to take out separate insurance for your business. Sometimes it is possible to get a group discount through a professional association. For example, if you become a member of the LVSC, you can get a collective discount on various insurance policies.

Please note: business liability insurance usually does not cover liability for e.g. mental or medical damage of a client. For this you would need professional liability insurance (in Dutch: beroeps-aanspakelijkheidsverzekering). This is usually quite costly. It is up to you whether you feel most comfortable heaving such an insurance, and to weigh up the costs and risks. Please seek advice from an insurance broker on the costs and coverage per insurance.

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