What is a Health Coach?

Learn more about the work of health coaches and wellness coaches


What is a health coach or wellness coach? Based on the NBHWC, the organization that oversees the national board exam for our profession, the definition is as follows: “Health and Wellness Coaches partner with clients seeking self-directed, lasting changes aligned with their values, which promote health and wellness and, thereby, enhance well-being. In the course of their work health and wellness coaches display unconditional positive regard for their clients and a belief in their capacity for change, and honoring that each client is an expert on his or her life, while ensuring that all interactions are respectful and non-judgmental.

That’s a mouthful, so let’s take a closer look at the primary aspects noted in this comprehensive 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 who are “seeking self-directed, lasting changes aligned with their values.” Not only do coaches not lecture their clients, they 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 THEIR 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 recognize 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.

Topics of discussion 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”? Traditionally, the “health” coach might be a little more clinical in nature, focused more on things like biometric screenings while the “wellness” coach would take a broader angle. However, as you can see from the name of NBHWC (National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching), those two essentially have now become one. Thanks everyone! Feel free to reach out to us Results@CatalystCoachingInstitute.com if you have any questions or you can access additional tools and resources at CatalystCoachingInstitute.com

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