What is a Health Coach?
A Health Coach is a supportive mentor and wellness authority. They help others feel their best through individualized food and lifestyle changes that meet their unique needs and health goals. Often times, Health Coaches provide their services in private coaching practices, either working one-on-one with clients or and facilitating a group coaching program.
Health coaching isn’t about one diet or one way of living. Health Coaches who graduate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) focus on bio-individuality – the idea that we’re all different and have unique dietary, lifestyle, emotional, and physical needs. This means that we don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellness. Health Coaches work with clients to help them discover how to fuel their bodies, live a healthy lifestyle, and become the healthiest, happiest versions of themselves by finding exactly what works for them.
What Does a Health Coach Do?
Health Coaches emphasize health beyond the plate by focusing on nourishment through primary foods, one of IIN's core curriculum concepts that means there are areas of your life that impact your short- and long-term health just as much as the food you eat, such as your relationships, career, spirituality, physical activity, and environment.
Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches incorporate these concepts of bio-individuality and primary food - along with over 100 dietary theories and coaching methods and tools explored during the Health Coach Training Program - to take a proactive and holistic approach to health. Whether creating their own coaching business, working alongside a physician, or embarking on a different wellness path, Health Coaches contribute to the greater health care field by guiding people to make healthier lifestyle choices.
As a Health Coach, you will learn something new from each person you work with as you continue to work with more clients. The more you coach, the more you will adjust your unique coaching style, process, and services—great things to refine for ultimate Health Coach success!
How Coach and Client Relationships Work
How a health coaching program works depends entirely on the coach, what their practice focuses on, and what the client is looking for. The relationship between coaches and clients will look different depending on a wide range of factors; however, the general layout of introductions and sessions may follow a set pattern.
Finalize the details of the coaching agreement
These include things like narrowing down the areas of your client’s health that you are going to focus on (such as reducing cravings, transitioning to a gluten-free diet, or losing weight). You’ll agree upon payment, and how payment will be made, like PayPal or checks. You and the client will decide what days and times work best between your schedules, and plan to meet at a set interval for several months.
Organize a wellness plan
This could look like writing down the recommendations that you’re going to make and the sequence in which you’ll share them, perhaps including added resources with recipes or worksheets. You don’t have to plan every single interaction with clients (since health coaching is an organic process) but laying out a foundation to get started will help you feel and appear more professional.
Engage in client sessions
Speak with your client in person, on the phone, or meet virtually approximately every two weeks, per the schedule you will have already agreed upon. Sessions follow a basic structure, starting with what’s “new and good” in your client’s life, followed by any challenges they’re having in the realm of wellness. You respond accordingly, with thoughtful listening, appropriate questions, and custom guidance. Sessions last anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour and end with several specific recommendations for your client to follow through on.
Encourage clients to implement changes between sessions
In between sessions, encourage your client to implement the suggestions given. You will choose your policy for handling questions or concerns that may come up between sessions. You could choose to send them additional resources, quick check-ins to stay in touch along the way, or offer email and text message support.
Repeat the calls every other week for 6 months, gradually adjusting goals and benchmarks as you go based on the needs of the client. Remember to always keep their original wellness goals in mind to ensure that both you and the client stay on track, and you can show them just how far they’ve come!
Health Coaches are the Future of Healthcare
Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches are revolutionizing the healthcare system through the power of nutrition, primary food, active listening, high-mileage questions, goal setting, and other techniques unique to health coaching. While the average visit to the doctor only lasts eight minutes, the average health coaching session is 50 minutes twice a month – an in-depth conversation to explore health goals and concerns.
It’s clear that Health Coaches are filling a vital gap between patients and doctors. With more doctors and medical practitioners recognizing the value of nutrition, movement, and other lifestyle factors in overall health, more and more have begun to employ Health Coaches as part of their long-term patient care strategy. Integrating Health Coaches into traditional medical care as accessible contacts for patients implementing a healthier lifestyle has created a firm foundation for a better vision of healthcare.
Health coaching is more than just a niche in healthcare; it’s a powerful movement for change that is creating a better world. Interested in pursuing a career as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach? Check out our Curriculum Guide which details everything you need to know about our transformative coaching program!