You’ve worked hard to become an occupational therapist. But as you may be finding, the competition in this field is fierce. With more than 161,000 occupational therapists practicing across the United States, you’ll need to stand out from the crowd and deliver high-quality care by expanding your training.
Becoming a certified wellness coach will equip you with a range of skills to improve your occupational therapy practice and offer your clients the very best, whole-person care.
So what does it mean to become a certified wellness coach in addition to your occupational therapy or COTA credentials, and how can you become one? Read on to find out how this training can benefit your occupational therapy practice and career.
What Does a Wellness Coach Do?
Before we look at how wellness coach certification can help you, it’s important to understand what a wellness coach does. While occupational therapists focus on helping people perform daily tasks, a wellness coach encourages their clients to:
- Develop self-awareness and understanding
- Identify their long- and short-term health goals
- Take consistent action toward achieving their goals
Depending on the client’s needs, a wellness coach will look at all the aspects of a client’s life that affect their wellness, or they might focus on a specific area of particular interest to the client (or patient).
Similar to an occupational therapist, a health coach will monitor their client’s emotional and mental progress as well as their physical progress.
So how can health coach certification benefit occupational therapists and their practices? Let’s take a closer look at how health coach training helps you support your clients better and enhance your clinical outcomes.
1. Wellness Coaching Helps You Focus On Your Clients’ Mindset
As you’re well aware, a person’s mental health and emotional mindset can have a huge impact on their day-to-day life. For example, emotional stress can trigger damaging physical responses in the human body. Thus, if you want to make a real difference in your clients’ lives it is important to understand more than their daily routine or objective measurements.
Wellness coach training gives you an even deeper skill set than you already have to communicate with your clients about their emotional well-being. This can help you to understand behaviors that might contribute to other issues and what may trigger these.
Getting a better understanding of how your client feels about their occupational therapy can also help you understand:
- Exactly what they want to achieve at a deeper level
- Their greatest areas of concern
- How they currently feel about their occupational therapy regime
The more you know about and understand your clients, the better positioned you are to help them.
2. It Helps You Create Realistic Plans
Your clients’ mindset can have a huge impact on their progress. Understanding this helps you to further enhance individual plans that they can realistically follow.
For example, if someone is living in a stressful environment or has been dealing with significant emotional trauma, their progress may be slower. In that case, it is important to put together an occupational therapy plan that takes this additional stressor into account.
Finding a plan that suits a client’s individual pace will make it much easier to stick to. This may mean that some clients take longer to reach their goals but it will help them to stay on track.
3. Wellness Training is Vital for Emotional Support
Occupational therapy can be a long journey, especially if your clients are dealing with lifelong conditions. In that case, they may find themselves feeling frustrated, angry, or powerless.
It is important that your clients are able to process their emotional journeys, too. In fact, often these journeys will go hand in hand as emotional blocks can delay progress.
Wellness coach certification training allows you to support your clients emotionally during their occupational therapy. This might involve setting aside time for counseling outside of occupational therapy sessions. Or it might involve teaching your clients about self-care therapies along with other activities.
Your training will also equip you with information about other organizations that offer emotional support. For example, you will learn about organizations that support people living with chronic conditions or facing mental health crises. If your client is really struggling, you can make sure that they find the help they need.
4. You Can Help Clients Discover Additional Factors That Affect Their Recovery
Understanding more about your clients’ lives and emotional well-being can help you identify circumstantial factors that might be affecting their progress (work environment, hobbies, sleep, etc.) as well as less obvious factors, such as:
- Their motivation in attending occupational therapy sessions
- Their personal relationships and the support they offer
- What they expect to achieve from occupational therapy
- How they feel about attending occupational therapy
As a health coach, you will be able to engage in all of these areas and discuss their impact with your clients. You will be better positioned to support changes they identify that will benefit their progress, such as eating habits, reducing stress or getting a more restful sleep. You’ll help your clients make changes that they can really stick to.
5. Wellness Coaches Offer Supportive Accountability
Of course, if someone is going to make progress in occupational therapy they need to attend sessions regularly and consistently practice their prescribed recovery exercises. Failing to do both will significantly slow their progress.
As an occupational therapist, it can be difficult to hold your clients accountable and support them emotionally. This is where health coach training can really help because you will learn to take a client-centered approach. You will be working with their goals, their pace, and their expectations.
Taking this approach makes holding them accountable feel more like a partnership. By asking questions like, “How do you feel about the progress that you’re making?” or “Do you feel like we’re working well toward the goals you wanted to achieve when you started therapy?” you can empower them to take more control of their progress.
If you do feel like a client’s progress is slowing down, your training will help you to explore the deeper why. Understanding and addressing the emotional factors at play can help your client overcome obstacles rather than giving up entirely.
Overall, you will end up helping more clients reach their goals and feel satisfied while doing so.
6. Wellness Encourages You to Focus on Yourself as Well
We have talked a lot about how wellness training can help your clients focus on their own well-being and how this affects their progress. But they aren’t the only ones who benefit from your certification.
Wellness training can also encourage you to look at your own emotional wellbeing and lifestyle (Move… Fuel… Rest…Connect), and reflect on practices that might be holding you back:
- Personal relationships
- Short-term and long-term goals
- Home life
- Physical health
You will also learn valuable tools for self-care and emotional development to address any issues that you may have been avoiding.
By looking after yourself, you will inevitably become a better, more-focused occupational therapist and develop a healthy work-life balance. You’ll be better positioned to bring your best self to each of your client sessions, which benefits both you and your clients.
7. A Wellness Coach Certification Program Helps You Stand Out From the Crowd
As we have already mentioned, there are a lot of occupational therapists in practice across the United States. Whether you are looking to secure clients for your private practice or are looking to differentiate yourself when applying for a job at a clinic, wellness coach training could provide the key differentiator.
Clients and employers will recognize that you have a unique set of skills invaluable in an occupational therapy setting. It will be easier to expand your practice (or help your employer expand theirs), or create a healthy side business. The health and wellness industry is currently worth $52.2 million in the United States, and occupational therapists bring critical backgrounds and knowledge to the industry.
Expanding your skill set shows potential employers and clients that you are committed to becoming the best occupational therapist or COTA you can be and are keen to learn new skills, making you an asset to any client or team!
What Does Getting Wellness Coach Certification Involve?
The process of becoming a health coach is straightforward. It starts with a credible health & wellness coach certification training program. As an OT or COTA, you’ll want to look for a program that is approved by the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching AND approved to offer occupational therapists and COTAs an established path to obtaining the CEUs they need to meet their professional requirements.
Course structures will vary slightly depending on where you do your wellness coach training, but in general, most courses offer seminars on the eight main aspects of wellness:
- Physical well-being
- Emotional and mental well-being
- Environmental well-being
- Financial well-being
- Intellectual well-being
- Occupational well-being
- Social well-being
- Spiritual well-being
Your training will cover a range of topics that can affect a person’s well-being, integrating concepts of Intrinsic Motivation and Motivational Interviewing into encouraging healthy eating habits, quitting smoking, handling toxic relationships, managing anxiety, making empowered career choices, and more.
Often clients will come to a wellness coach wanting to focus only on a particular area of their wellness. Your training will also teach you how to assess a client’s needs and advise them without overlooking important areas of your client’s health and well-being.
As well as attending seminars or webinars (online), you should receive practice coaching sessions with a skilled mentor coach. Some in-person courses also offer you guidance related to the business side of coaching. At the end of your course, you will need to pass a final exam in order to receive your certification.
Tips for Finding the Best Certified Wellness Coach Training
It is important to find a training course that suits you and your circumstances. When picking your course make sure you consider:
- Your budget
- Whether you want to attend a course in person or learn online
- Whether you would like to do a full- or part-time course
- Class size (do you prefer smaller class sizes for the personal connection with the instructor and other students or are you okay with larger classes?)
- Reviews or testimonials of a training course before you sign up
An intensive wellness training course is the quickest way to achieve your certification, if it works with your situation, but there are more flexible options if you need them.
Start Your Wellness Coach Training Today
Becoming a certified wellness coach can make a huge difference to your occupational therapy practice, whether you’re looking to add value for your employer, expand your own practice, differentiate yourself for future opportunities, or start a side business of your own.
Are you ready to join a health coach certification program? Register with the Catalyst Coaching Institute today to start your journey towards wellness coach certification. You can also learn more about OT continuing ed credits on our Occupational Therapist Page. Questions about the process? Schedule a consultation with our chief learning officer. We’re here to help!