Published:
August 12, 2021
Last Updated:
August 16, 2021

Life Coach vs. Health Coach: Which Is Right for You?

Losing weight, achieving better work-life balance, and improving overall quality of life are common reasons for someone to seek out a health and wellness expert. With the variety of coaches out there, though, one may be better than another to help support someone in reaching specific health goals. Life coaching and health and wellness coaching are two different types of coaching; both set out to motivate and support their clients, but each has distinct differences in the services they offer and the expertise they provide.

What Is a Life Coach?

A life coach works with clients to help them achieve their goals, whether personal or professional (or both), and reach their fullest potential. They do this by providing support, accountability, and a nonjudgmental space for their clients to express their worries and celebrate their wins. From small adjustments to large transformations, life coaches guide clients to recognize their goals, personal skills, dreams, and desires and help them overcome life issues and challenges.

Life coaches often specialize in a particular niche so they can form better connections with clients and gain a deeper understanding of each person’s individual goals and obstacles.

Life coaches can specialize in:

  • Financial wellness
  • Relationship coaching
  • Career development
  • Health and well-being
  • Mental health support
  • Life and communication skills

Working with a life coach can be flexible and accommodating for both coach and client, especially with the available forms of communication, including in person; over the phone; or virtually, through Skype, Zoom, etc. Life coaches often find that this work lends itself to a healthy work-life balance, creating their own schedule and building a coaching business that meets their needs.

What Is a Health and Wellness Coach?

Health and wellness coaches (or simply, Health Coaches) are experts in holistic health, mentoring clients on their health journeys to reach their individual physical, emotional, and dietary goals. The terms Health Coach, wellness coach, and health and wellness coach are often used interchangeably.

Popular reasons to work with a Health Coach include a desire to:

  • Improve relationships
  • Start a new career
  • Elevate physical fitness
  • Create healthier diet and lifestyle habits
  • Achieve financial wellness

Health Coaches, especially those who graduation from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Training Program, are unique in that they are not only supporting clients to determine what foods work for them but also looking at how much fulfillment clients are getting (or not getting) from other areas of their lives, such as relationships, career, environment, spirituality, and more.

This is what we here at IIN refer to as primary food; when we feel nourished by everything off our plates, everything on our plates becomes secondary. Health Coaches utilize this core concept of primary food in their coaching, and clients often discover that their health concerns can be traced to an unmet hunger for primary food.

A Health Coach’s main role is to provide a safe space for clients to become experts on their health and determine what diet and lifestyle practices work for their unique bodies. This is another IIN core concept called bio-individuality, the idea that what works for one person may not work for another. Traditional healthcare and medicine are finally catching up to the understanding that everyone needs their own personalized road map for eating and living!

Health Coaches are integral members of the greater healthcare team, working alongside more traditional health and wellness professionals, like nutritionists, dietitians, nurses, physicians, therapists, and certified personal trainers. These professionals often perform clinical work and will diagnose and treat specific health conditions. This is outside a Health Coach’s scope of practice; instead, Health Coaches aim to educate their clients about taking a holistic approach to their health, empowering them to find the root cause of their health issues and make lifestyle choices that work for them.

Life Coach vs. Health and Wellness Coach

When it comes to the careers of a life coach and health and wellness coach, they often look very similar. Both coaches can work with clients in person or virtually and with individuals or groups. They may structure their businesses similarly, creating the work-life balance that works for them and aligns with their goals.

The niches, or target markets, of these coaches may also look similar. As mentioned, there’s much more to taking care of well-being than just the food on your plate. The areas that life coaches may focus on can be the same as those a Health Coach may focus on. In general, selecting a specific niche will aid coaches in garnering the clients they wish to support ‒ and will ultimately set the coach and client up for success in their working relationship.

One of the main differences between these types of coaches is that a Health Coach is more focused on supporting clients with their health and wellness. While this can encompass areas of life that a life coach can address, a client seeking a Health Coach is often prioritizing their physical well-being and in turn will find that their mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being could use some fine-tuning. A client seeking a life coach may have other goals and concerns in mind, such as how to develop confidence to make a big career change, how to become a better decision maker, or how to deal with stress.

The bottom line

Both types of coaches aim to help clients improve their lives in ways that are unique to them. No matter which coach someone chooses, they will receive support and encouragement to become the healthiest and happiest version of themselves.

Author Biography
Nina Zorfass
,
IIN Content Writer

Nina holds a bachelor’s in dietetics, nutrition, and food sciences from the University of Vermont and is a graduate of IIN’s Health Coach Training Program.

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