What is a Health Coach?
If you’ve been exploring the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, you may be asking yourself, “What does a Health Coach actually do?” Well, with an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach certificate, the opportunities are endless!
Before we dive in, let’s start with the basics – what exactly is a Health Coach?
A Health Coach is a supportive mentor and wellness authority who helps 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. Instead, Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches 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.
Health Coaches also emphasize holistic health beyond the plate through a focus 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.
Health Coaches use 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.
How Coach and Client Relationships Work
Now, how does a typical health coaching program work? Let’s imagine you’re a Health Coach and you’ve gotten in touch with someone who is seeking guidance and support in the area of personal wellness. They love what you have to say and want to work with you as a client... great!
1. Finalize the details of the coaching agreement, including:
- Specific 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).
- Agreeing upon payment, and the means by which payment will be made (you might use PayPal or accept checks in the mail).
- Best days of the week or times of day when you’ll schedule your sessions over the next 6 months.
- Best forms of communication to use in between sessions (you might allow the client to text in between sessions, or you may limit communication to email – whatever you prefer!).
2. Once you’re clear on these details, you can begin to organize a wellness plan for each client. Don’t worry, IIN will help you understand this better while you’re a student!This could look like writingdown the recommendations that you’re going to make and the sequence in which you’ll share them, perhaps including additional resources with recipes or worksheets. You don’t have to plan out the entire 6 months since health coaching is an organic process, but laying out a foundation to get started will help you feel and appear more professional.
3. Speak with your client in person, on the phone,or Skype approximately every two weeks, per the schedule you will have already agreed upon.
4. 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 should last approximately 45 minutes and end withone to threespecific recommendations for your client to follow through on.
5. 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 or quickcheck-insto stay in touch along the way. Or offer unlimited email and text message support. Up to you!
6. 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 toalways keeptheir original wellness goals in mind to ensure that both you and the client stay on track, and you are able to show them just how far they’ve come!
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! The above is our tried-and-true framework that’s worked for thousands of Health Coaches and is the perfect way to get started.
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 between Health Coaches and their clients. It’s evident 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!