What is a Health Coach?
You may be interested in learning more about what a health coach is for different reasons. Maybe you’d like to consider becoming a health coach, for example.
You might also be someone who’s considering hiring a health coach as a way to get guidance for a healthier lifestyle.
Either way, it’s a compelling role, and working with a health coach can be transformative.
Health coaching is about helping people improve their well-being holistically.
The following are some of the things to know about health coaches.
What Does a Health Coach Do?
A health coach is someone who works with clients in all areas of their health. They are experts in not just health, but also motivation and behavior. That understanding of behavior is what allows them to help their clients achieve change.
This is also how they’re different from a nutritionist or personal trainer, for example.
A coach can work with their client to help them uncover the “why” behind the change they hope to make in their health. A coach can empower their client, identify challenges, and work on strategies to overcome them and provide accountability and support.
Since a health coach has a broad knowledge-base, they may be able to help with different types of concerns their client may have.
It’s important to know what a health coach isn’t, just as much what one is.
A health coach is not a doctor, so they’re not going to prescribe medicines or diagnose conditions.
They aren’t personal trainers, and they’re not there to push you too hard or make you feel bad if you don’t reach certain goals.
The concept of a health coach is one that’s important as millions of Americans are grappling with the effects of diseases related to lifestyle, such as diabetes and obesity.
It’s so important that people holistically look at their health and think about changes they can make that are sustainable and will have a real impact.
Health coaches are especially useful for people with chronic conditions.
Working with a health coach is kind of like working with a therapist because you will talk about different ideas and strategies. For the person being coached, however, they are really in control of the situation. It’s a client-driven model.
Reasons you might work with a health coach include:
- You know something isn’t ideal with your health, but you’re not entirely sure what it is and you’d like to find someone who can help you identify and then remedy the problem.
- You need accountability to reach your goals. If you’re struggling with staying on track and being motivated, a health coach can help you a lot with regular check-ins.
- You feel overwhelmed by the idea of improving your health. A health coach can help you organize your diet and exercise plans and focus on what you need to prioritize.
- You struggle with making long-term changes. For some people, it’s easy to lose weight quickly with a crash diet, but then they gain it all back. A health coach can work with you on sustainable lifestyle changes rather than fad diets or trendy routines.
What Techniques Does a Health Coach Use?
Many coaches use motivational interviewing and positive psychology when they’re working with clients.
In motivational interviewing, a coach will ask open-ended questions with the goal of having the client come to their conclusions and reasons for wanting to make a change. It’s different from speaking to a doctor, who might just instruct you to lose weight, rather than talking about how losing weight could positively change your life.
Motivational interviewing techniques seem to be much more effective at helping people make changes than just telling them what to do.
Positive psychology is also a critical part of being a health coach.
There’s not a focus on what’s wrong with you or what you need to fix, but instead on what you can do to make your life better. You’re using your personal strength to improve health behaviors.
Does Health Coaching Work?
Health coaching as an industry is somewhat new, but there is some evidence it’s effective.
There was a recent study that showed clinically significant improvements in risk factors like body weight, body mass index, and blood pressure in people who worked with a health coach.
Health coaching has also been shown in research to help reduce hospital admissions and improve quality of life in people with COPD.
It’s becoming so popular that some insurance companies are even covering the costs, and doctors are recommending it.
How Do You Become a Health Coach?
As it stands now, health coaching isn’t a regulated industry, so you don’t need a specific certification. There’s also not one definition of what a coach is, but if you want to start a health coaching business and have a good reputation, you should participate in programs that do certify coaches. These are available in-person and online.
Along with being certified by a reputable program, you should also have a business plan if you want to be a health coach.
You might decide in creating your business plan that you want to specialize in a certain area, and this is the time when you can start to narrow down who you’d like your clients to be.
What to Know About Working with a Health Coach
If you’d like to work with a health coach, the most important thing is to take the time to find the right person for you. You need to find someone not only with the technical expertise, but also someone you trust. You’re going to have to be open and honest with this person, so trust is key.
Before you hire someone, you should check with your employer and your insurance to see if the costs might be covered.
A health coach can be a great asset in your life, especially if you’re dealing with a chronic condition but also if you just want to feel your best consistently.