What is a Health Coach?

What is a health coach? Is it a real career? Is it the same as a personal trainer? A nutritionist? Can anyone just call themselves a health coach or is there some specific credential involved? Where do they work? Any tips or secrets to getting started? These are all common questions we hear from people every day. So in the next few minutes, I’ll do my best to give you some real answers to all of these questions along with some additional insights that might be helpful.

What is a health coach or Health & wellness coach? Based on the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching or N B H W C , the organization that oversees the national board exam for our profession, the definition is as follows:

“Health & wellness coaches partner with clients seeking to enhance their well-being through self-directed, lasting changes, aligned with their values. In the course of their work, health & wellness coaches display an unconditional positive regard for their clients and a belief in their capacity for change, honoring the fact that each client is an expert on their own life, while ensuring that all interactions are respectful and non-judgmental.”

That’s a lot to digest all at once, so let’s take a closer look at the primary aspects noted in the NBHWC’s description…
• Partner with clients: Coaches don’t lecture clients. We partner with clients. We’re coming alongside them to help them make the most of their journey of wellbeing through this life.
• Clients are “seeking self-directed, lasting changes aligned with their values.” Not only do coaches not lecture our clients, we also don’t come in with a pre-conceived notion of the best next step for that individual. As coaches, our clients are SELF-directed. THEY are the experts in their lives, not us. However, an experienced and well-trained coach helps guide the process that is aligned with THE CLIENT’s values, asking key questions utilizing the skills of motivational interviewing and intrinsic motivation.
• Coaches “display unconditional positive regard for their clients and belief in their capacity for change.” This one doesn’t usually take much of an effort from skilled coaches because that unconditional positive regard and belief is generally just part of what draws us to health & wellness in the first place! Coaches recognize the inherent value in each person and the uniqueness of their strengths.
• Words like honoring, respectful and non-judgmental round out the definition, reminding us that as coaches, our goal is not to turn our clients into miniature versions of us. Rather it is to help them move toward the BEST version of themselves.

Is it a real career? Absolutely. The NBHWC has brought a new level of respect to the profession through their partnership on the board certification with the National Board of Medical Examiners. It’s distinctly different from being a personal trainer or nutritionist, although both of those professions, as well as physical therapists, nurses, counselors, physicians and others often pursue certification as a health & wellness coach to expand their horizons and differentiate themselves professionally.

Topics of discussion in coaching can include anything from the more traditional “food & fitness” or they can address sleep, life balance, stress optimization, finances and much more. As a coach, you have an opportunity to bring all of your knowledge, experience and passion into the coaching session, but in more of a guiding style of communication, which then creates more engagement and long-term change. Instead of “telling,” we draw it from the client. We are the facilitator, helping our individual clients to move toward “Better Than Yesterday” in the areas that matter most to them.
In terms of work settings, there are a vast number of opportunities on this front. Some coaches will start their own business or work independently with a physician or another healthcare setting. Others may work for a wellness company or be directly integrated into an organizational employee wellness program. Coaching formats can range from telephonic to face-to-face and everything in between.

By the way – what’s the difference between a “health coach” and a “wellness coach”? Well, traditionally, the “health” coach might be a little more clinical in nature and focused more on things like biometric screenings while the “wellness” coach would take a broader approach. However, as you can see from the name of the NBHWC (National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching), those two essentially have now become one.

If you’d like to tap into more details and would like additional resources, please contact us through the website below – CatalystCoachingInstitute.com. Or there is an entire library of freely available videos to get you started in coaching, enhancing your coaching skills or helping you expand your coaching business right here on the YouTube Coaching Channel. This one might be a good place to start.
Thanks for tuning in. Now let’s go Be A Catalyst on this journey of life.

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