Health Coach vs. Wellness Coach: Know the Differences

health coach

When looking to improve well-being, people often seek professional help to live their best life and meet their health goals. Often, they turn to a professional health coach or wellness coach.

But what is the difference between a health coach and a wellness coach? Today, the two roles are similar, and professionals can even pursue the NBHWC-approved national board certification as a health & wellness coach. However, there are some historical differences that are important to know. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in health and wellness, read on to understand the key differences.

Health Coach vs. Wellness Coach

Today, there are many ways health coaches and wellness coaches cross paths – including as the combined health & wellness coach – yet there are still some differences, the main ones being the focus of their work and the setting. A health coach may concentrate on physical fitness and health while a wellness coach will incorporate all aspects of well-being that lead to healthy living.

The words “health” and “wellness” are often used interchangeably within the health industry. Health is a state of being that is achieved through the various dimensions of wellness.

What is a Wellness Coach?

The concept of wellness refers to an individual’s state of health in body and mind. The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as “the active pursuit of activities that lead to a state of holistic health.”

Most wellness coaches promote a holistic approach to health. Their techniques help to reduce stress and develop healthy habits. Some of the responsibilities of a wellness coach include:

  • Encouraging people to make lifestyle choices aligned with their goals
  • Address imbalances in a person’s life
  • Design goals and objectives to work toward overall wellbeing
  • Supporting people to manage chronic conditions
  • Provide a safe environment for discussions

A wellness coach uses their coaching toolkit to help re-balance their client’s body and mind. They empower and motivate their clients to manage stress, improve energy, and enjoy life. A wellness coach will integrate exercise and activity level as part of a holistic approach to wellbeing, whereas a health coach would focus more on physical improvement and specific health goals.

Wellness coaches can meet with their clients in group sessions or in one-to-one meetings to create long-term success.

What is a Health Coach?

Health coaches are similar to wellness coaches in that they empower their clients to achieve their health goals. They use their knowledge and expertise to improve the quality of people’s lives by identifying health challenges within a person’s life. A health coach can work alone or alongside other healthcare professionals in hospitals and clinics.

With a client-centered approach, health coaches listen to the needs of the patient and tailor their treatment to suit their needs. Many health coaches are experts in the human body, nutrition, and exercise, which means they can support clients with chronic health conditions such as diabetes. Coaches in a healthcare setting are sometimes identified as a health coach and may list additional training credentials such as nursing or dietician to the required backgrounds.

Some of the responsibilities of a health coach include:

  • Listening to and understanding the client’s needs
  • Facilitate meetings via email, phone, or in person
  • Provide support and encouragement
  • Work with clients and their healthcare providers
  • Set goals following biometric testing results

A health coach can ask powerful and valuable questions to help clients achieve their goals. Doctors will often refer patients to a health coach to provide the needed individual support and customized goal setting.

An online health coach can promote healthy living and positive lifestyle changes through regular video calls and online resources.

How Do Coaching Qualifications Differ?

Health and wellness coaches want to assist their clients in making meaningful changes in life. To do so effectively, the coach will complete relevant training to improve their knowledge and understanding. While it is technically possible to practice without a health coach certification, it is not advisable. Prospective coaches often choose to receive a certificate that meets the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC) published standards.

Becoming part of a professional body is important if you want to find clients and obtain credibility within the healthcare industry.

Health coaching qualifications

A degree or diploma in a health-related subject is beneficial (but not essential) for prospective health coaches. A degree program may have an accredited health coaching certification that you can complete after your studies or as part of your coursework. Other professionals with health related degrees often seek out certification programs specific to health coaching as a great complement to their education.

You can also gain credibility as a health coach through relevant experience working with patients. Health coaches combine skills in coaching with background and knowledge in health and wellbeing.

Wellness coaching qualifications

It is possible to pursue a career as a wellness coach without a degree in a health related field. Some wellness coaches choose a relevant degree after they achieve their coaching qualifications. Educational programs in health sciences and nutrition are beneficial for wellness coaches who want to continue their studies. However, wellness coaches often enter the field due to a personal passion for health and wellness, with a variety of previous work experience and backgrounds.

Attending retreats and networking events can help a coach become more visible. Wellness coaches can gain experience by working within health and fitness centers. Employers and clients will expect to see relevant experience to show you are a competent and knowledgeable coach.

Become a Certified Coach

Now that you know the difference between a health coach and a wellness coach, you can make the right choice for your future. The health and wellness industry is promising, with lots of opportunities for new coaches. Make sure you choose an NBHWC accredited course that will set you up for success.

Do you have the passion and drive to become a wellness coach? Contact Catalyst Coaching Institute for a free consultation to discuss your wellness career!

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