What Is a Health Coach?
A Health Coach is a supportive guide who helps clients set health goals, whether to better manage stress, improve mood and energy, lose weight, and much more. Health Coaches help their clients develop a positive mind-set around making diet and lifestyle changes, empowering and motivating them to become their own experts. This is key in a Health Coach’s work – to encourage their clients to find what foods and lifestyle practices work best for them. We at IIN call this bio-individuality, the idea that everyone is unique, which informs how they can live their healthiest, happiest lives.
Health Coaches hold clients accountable to their goals and provide a safe space for clients to talk about their health journey. The work of Health Coaches bridges the gap between where clients are now and where they wish to be, a gap often ignored by traditional healthcare, which doesn’t focus on preventive health or long-term sustainable solutions.
It’s important to point out that Health Coaches have a different scope of practice than other nutrition and wellness experts, such as dietitians or nutritionists. Health Coaches do not prescribe diet plans nor give a one-size-fits-all lifestyle plan to clients. Health Coaches focus on a 360-degree, holistic approach to health and well-being. It’s never just about the food – it’s also important to pay attention to the other areas of your life that have an impact on your health, such as the quality of your relationships, satisfaction with your career, and your environment. It’s for this reason that Health Coaches’ work is so valuable.
Finding the Right Health Coach
When searching for a Health Coach, first consider what you want to accomplish.
Many Health Coaches have a target group of people they work with, such as busy new mothers, women looking to balance their hormones, or people looking to manage chronic symptoms or optimize their athletic performance. These are just a few of the many specialties that Health Coaches can focus on; depending on your unique needs and desired goals, this will help you narrow down your search for the right Health Coach.
You will also want to consider your budget. Depending on your health insurance, you may be able to get your coaching sessions covered, but you must check with your insurance provider first. As the field of health coaching grows, so does the possibility of all services eventually being covered by insurance, which is amazing!
Since each Health Coach brings their unique personality and coaching style to their work, this is also something you’ll want to consider during your search. If you have trouble sticking to diet and lifestyle changes and want accountability, you’ll want a coach who’s firm yet compassionate. If you find you’re often frazzled due to being too busy or stressed, you’ll want a coach who will be patient while helping you figure out how to implement changes that will be sustainable.
Don’t be afraid to ask them what their coaching style is and how they respond to difficult situations. Many Health Coaches offer a complimentary consultation to first-time clients, which is the perfect opportunity to get a feel for their approach. Since you’ll be working closely with them for a period of time, it’s imperative that you feel comfortable speaking with them about your health goals and concerns.
Now that you know what to look for to find the right Health Coach, where can you actually find one to work with? Back when IIN was founded nearly 30 years ago, the idea of a Health Coach was really out there! But now, the concept and practice of health coaching is becoming more mainstream, which means finding a Health Coach is much easier.
Where to Find a Health Coach
- Social media – Finding a Health Coach on social media is common these days! Whether you saw a friend of a friend post about their coaching sessions with their Health Coach or scroll through #HolisticHealthCoach, you’ll be able to connect with someone quickly and easily.
- Personal recommendations – As health coaching becomes part of one’s regular health routine, just as a checkup is with your doctor, you will likely be able to find a Health Coach through word of mouth, such as from your coworker or cousin.
- Your doctor’s office or wellness center – Traditional healthcare is catching up to the idea that Health Coaches add value to the greater healthcare team. Many doctor’s offices, such as Parsley Health (founded by IIN visiting teacher Dr. Robin Berzin), One Medical, and The Well (founded by IIN grad Sarrah Hallock), employ Health Coaches as part of their care teams.
- Gyms and spas – Nutrition goes hand in hand with exercise and other forms of self-care, so it’s no surprise that facilities such as gyms and spas have Health Coaches on staff to help clients take care of their whole-body health. The next time you’re at the gym, talk to a personal trainer to see if they’re also a Health Coach or can recommend one to you.
Health Coach Credentials
In addition to finding a Health Coach who can help you accomplish your health goals, you will also want to make sure you are hiring someone who has earned valuable and meaningful credentials.
What to look for when vetting a Health Coach’s credentials:
- Education – You will want to determine if the Health Coach attended a credible institution. To see if a school is credible, look for information around when it was established, as well as its online reviews, training program curriculum, program duration, and if it’s affiliated with other educational institutions.
- Certification – This is not required to practice as a Health Coach, but it does demonstrate that the Health Coach went above and beyond their initial training to pursue a credential that exemplifies their coaching knowledge. It also allows them to call themselves a certified Health Coach. Currently in the health coaching field, the NBHWC has created the go-to certification credential, and in order to receive it, one must go to an NBHWC-approved school before applying for and passing a certification exam.
- Specialties – If the Health Coach has focused their business on a target group of people, such as those managing their diabetes, did they receive further education in that area to be best able to serve that target group?
Again, because you’ll be working closely with your Health Coach, don’t hesitate to ask them questions about their education. Who knows, it may even spark your interest in becoming a Health Coach yourself!
What a Health Coach Can Help You With
Health Coaches take a holistic approach to health and well-being, meaning they’ll not only help clients determine what foods work for them but also what other areas of their life could use more attention and nourishment. At IIN, the Circle of Life is a key tool in helping people figure out which areas of their life – or “primary food,” the things found off your plate that fulfill you – are out of alignment.
Using this tool, and their coaching and behavioral change expertise, Health Coaches can help you:
- Lose weight
- Create more balance
- Boost energy
- Improve mood
- Increase motivation
- Stick to an exercise routine
- Improve relationships (with yourself and others)
- Make more time for self-care
- Prioritize emotional and mental well-being
- Reduce stress and better manage stress when it arises
- Maintain a healthier diet and lifestyle
- And much more!
Remember, finding the right Health Coach will take time and patience, just as your new journey toward great health.