What is a health and wellness coach?

The need for wellness coaching

Health and wellness coaching grew out of a need or gap in the traditional health care system around preventative and lifestyle medicine. Most physicians don’t have time to help patients build healthy habits and change their lifestyle on a daily basis. With 30 million preventable deaths each year, health and wellness coaches can help to fill in this gap.

Mounting evidence and research support the benefits of health and wellness coaching for helping patients make behaviour modifications that can prevent or manage chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases.

Defining “wellness coach”

One of the schools I graduated from, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the largest nutrition school in the world, defines a health coach as:

“A mentor who works with clients to achieve their wellness goals. By addressing all the facets of health in addition to eating – relationships, exercise, career, and spirituality – health coaches help people become healthier and happier in all areas of their lives.”

The other coaching school I trained through, Real Balance Global Wellness, describes wellness coaches as:

“Professionals from diverse backgrounds and education who work with individuals and groups in a client-centered process to facilitate and empower the client to achieve self-determined goals related to health and wellness.”

Wellness coaching today

A number of fields have influenced health and wellness coaching. It combines the best practices, philosophies, and processes from life coaching and the behavioural sciences with expertise and knowledge from the areas of wellness and health promotion.

We are typically either coaches or individuals who are drawn to wellness, or wellness professionals who are drawn to coaching. We work in conjunction with physicians, nurses, dieticians and other health practitioners to bring about the best outcome for our clients.

We can be found in hospitals, clinical practices, company wellness programs, retreat centres and spas. Many of us work in private practices directly with clients.

We have a number of interchangeable titles like health coach, wellness coach, holistic health coach, or integrative nutrition coach.

The main tools we use are: helping the client develop a compelling vision for change; goal setting; accountability; wellness assessments; tracking and support. The approach is tailored to an individual’s needs using compassion, motivation and self-efficacy. We help to identify strengths, barriers, strategies, and motivators to help make lasting behaviour change.

P.S. If you’re a new health coach who’s interested in building your skills and boosting your confidence, I invite you to join my facebook community.


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