Ask a Health Coach: What If I Don't Know the Answer to a Client's Question?
For this week's Ask A Health Coach column, we decided to dig into one of the questions that came up in our Facebook student groups. This question comes from Isaline, who wrote: What if a client asks us a question we don't have the answer to?
Good question, Isaline.
I remember fearing this very thing when I first started out as a Health Coach. Thankfully, during Integrative Nutrition's Health Coach Training program, Joshua shares strategies for overcoming this fear and assuring your clients that while you may not know the answer in that moment, you will help them find it.
The best response when you find yourself out of your depth is: "that’s a great question, let me check on that for you and I will get back to you with that information." This way, you can go over what you discover in the next session, or send your findings over email. You will absolutely be able to find the answer to most questions that stump you—and trust me, by the end of the program, you'll have so much knowledge to offer that these instances will be few and far between.
The other thing to remember is that people are very understanding and don’t actually expect you to know everything on the spot. They just want you to have the desire to help them and the expertise to point them in the right direction so that they don’t have to struggle with guesswork.
One of the best things you can do is remember that you don't need to know everything. Once you let go of this obligation, you'll feel an incredible burden lift from your shoulders!
Something that helps with this is finding your unique niche. As you go through the training program, you will hone in on your specialty, and having this targeted audience will help you with branding, establishing the tone of your marketing, and becoming an authority in your focused area of choice. Not to mention the fact that clients will know exactly what they're getting by going to you. The clearer you are, the easier it will be to build a successful business and have maximum impact.
It’s also important to know that some questions will fall outside of your scope of practice and that’s okay. You will start to develop resources, references, and referral partnerships over time where you can direct your clients for these types of questions.
Years into my Health Coaching practice, do I know everything that my clients ask? No. Do I know where to find those answers so that they can feel satisfied in the work we do together? You bet! I’ve also noticed that the simplest suggestions I make are the ones that create the biggest ripple in my clients' health. These little tweaks are more effective, since they seem manageable to people who feel overwhelmed by the idea of getting and staying healthy.
Trust in the curriculum of Integrative Nutrition to teach you what you need to know, and—most importantly—trust that your own instincts and wisdom will lead you to success.
Do you have a question for Health Coach Shannon? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or Tweet it to us @nutritionschool with the hashtag #healthcoachshannon
Shannon Brennan-Cressey is a graduate of Integrative Nutrition’s 2008 Health coaching class and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has worked in wellness centers, with private clients, and coached other prospective Health Coaches as a member of the admissions team at Integrative Nutrition. Shannon supports woman is finding better balance in their lives and in finding peace with food. She also runs a health and wellness blog where you can find her posting about things like green wedding planning, body image issues, self-empowerment, and healthy delicious recipes.