Not All Wellness Coach Certifications Are Created Equally

As the wellness coaching industry has expanded, so have the alternatives for education.  As the premier provider of the CWC (certified wellness coach) certification at the Catalyst Coaching Institute, we obviously have a horse in this race.  However,  we’ll be the first to tell you that there are other good wellness coach certifications available besides our own.  But be careful, because there are also some very poor ones available.  Here are a few key questions you can ask yourself as you examine your options for earning your wellness coach certification:

  1. Is the program credible?  Of course, every wellness coach training program will claim to be credible and have wonderfully designed websites and fliers.  However, these are just marketing materials.  What provides the actual credibility outside a talented marketing director?  Are they approved/certified/accredited by multiple organizations such as the National Athletic Trainer’s Association’s Board of Certification? Or the American College of Sports Medicine? Others?  What about the organization as a whole? Have they been reviewed by national accreditation agencies such as URAC or NCQA? These are important questions you won’t want to miss.
  2. What information is covered as part of the certification? And how will you utilize this information as a certified wellness coach?  Ask multiple questions here, and then ask some more. While a certification isn’t expensive when compared to taking additional college courses, it’s not an insignificant investment either.  Find out what you’ll be learning.  Ask what you’ll learn that differs from other comparable programs.
  3. Does the program design fit you and your schedule?  Unless you’re pursuing some generic, simplified weekend program (and yes, those do exist if you’re simply looking for a piece of paper to hang on your wall), your certification will also require an investment of time.  Does the design of the program fit with your schedule? Just as importantly, does it fit you and your learning style?  If not, look elsewhere.
  4. Will you have the opportunity to work directly with a Mentor Coach to develop your skills?  Yes, there is a certain amount of book knowledge that will be part of any credible wellness coach certification.  However, wellness coaching is not a game of Jeopardy. Rather, it’s real life!  Having the opportunity to actually practice what you’re learning in multiple settings and in various situations will not only help build your confidence – it will also help you in enhance your outcomes – even with your initial clients.
  5. Is there an opportunity to attend on-site training? Or is it restricted to virtual coursework?  For some people, travelling to a course is simply not possible.  However, if there is ANY way for you to arrange for this and you can find a certification that provides at least the option of on-site training, you’ll likely enhance your experience quite significantly.  Wellness coaching is a people business – and the things you can learn when sitting in a classroom with other coaches, practicing face-to-face with a mentor coach and getting to know the instructors and other coaches personally, will be invaluable to your career – both now and into the distant future.
  6. Does the information extend beyond the academic side of coaching?  It is obviously very important to learn about Motivational Interviewing, Intrinsic Motivation, Temperament Interactions and other aspects that would be considered academic in the wellness coaching world.  However, if the certification is limited to only the academic side, you will likely be very disappointed in terms of applying that information to your practice.  As you review your options, certainly drill down into the information that will be included in the training and the opportunity to apply it in real-life situations. However, don’t stop there. Instead, be sure those providing the training have get ‘it’ (with “it” being not just the head knowledge, but the way it plays itself out in the real world, with real clients, real companies, etc.
  7. Do you respect – and actually like – the people involved? Does this really matter? Of course, you can get certified and move on, never to interact with your instructor or the organization providing the training again. However, this is the organization to whom you’re hitching your proverbial career wagon.  Their actions and attitudes will be a reflection on you.  Are they the kind of people with whom you want to be associated for the next 20+ years? Then, beyond the respect aspect – do you like them?  Do you trust them? This is a people business – and those providing the training must understand that as much as those providing the coaching.

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