Published: January 1, 2021
As the field of health coaching continues to grow, more and more people are considering working with a health coach for the first time. You may be wondering what different types of health coaches are out there, and how to identify the coach that’s right for you.
Deciding to work with a health coach can sometimes be suggested by a primary care physician, recommended by a friend or family member, or it may just be a personal decision to take charge of your health. Whatever your reasons for seeking out a health coach, it’s important to understand the different aspects of health coaching, and what you should be looking for in a coach.
“Health and wellness coaches are trained in empathy, motivational interviewing and behavioral counseling skills, and can help individuals set realistic goals.” – The Washington Post
Here are 4 important questions to ask when hiring a health coach:
1. What is your educational background and training?
There are a broad range of health coaches out there, and it is ultimately up to you to decide what qualifications you want in a coach. Some coaches are licensed medical professionals and therapists who have obtained additional training to offer coaching services. Some coaches do not have a medical license, but have chosen to train with a health coaching certification program. The National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches, or NBHWC, certifies health and wellness coaches who have successfully met and demonstrated its coaching competencies and who adhere to its ethical guidelines. Programs that are approved by NBHWC, such as The Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (FMCA), have met the standards set forth for recognition.
It is also very important that your coach understands their scope of practice. These are the legal and ethical limitations to giving medical advice or making medical recommendations for health-related matters. Coaches that fully understand their scope are able to support their clients most effectively, without overstepping their areas of expertise.
2. Do you have a specialty?
Coaches are not one-size-fits-all. Many choose to focus on one particular area, such as weight loss, nutrition, fitness, autoimmune diseases, chronic pain, meditation, and so on. Research has shown the clinical benefits of health coaching to help achieve greater focus, reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, manage pain, and lose weight. Some coaches choose to take a deep dive into Functional Medicine. Because FMCA is the only training program designed in collaboration with The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), coaches from FMCA have an understanding of Functional Medicine principles in order to help support and educate clients in those areas. Coaches are trained to meet you where you are, and are able to bridge the gaps to provide the support and motivation clients need to succeed.
3. What is your method and style of coaching?
There are many different styles of health coaching, and it’s important to understand the method and approach of your coach. Health coaching is about empowering and identifying personal challenges to set goals and help clients work toward lasting change. However, coaching can also open the doors to many fears, doubts and personal insecurities that may not have been explored before. It’s important to recognize that coaching is not psychological therapy. A good coach should be able to describe their own professional methods for exploring sensitive issues, while also understanding when psychotherapy or counseling may be needed to facilitate changes in a safe and healthy way.
4. How can coaching fit my needs?
Honesty is always the best policy, and no matter how impressive a coach’s website or résumé may be, health coaching can only be beneficial when both parties are forthright about their needs, expectations, and capabilities. As a client, it’s best to assess and describe what you’re looking to gain through health coaching. Be honest about the challenges you’ve faced, your successes, and your setbacks. Openly ask about fees so that you’re prepared to make the investment to multiple visits. Be honest about the time you are able to commit, and ask about technologies such as video-conferencing that may help simplify scheduling and make follow-up appointments more accessible and convenient for you.
Health coaching is a team-based approach that allows you to achieve more well-rounded and supportive healthcare than ever before. Are you ready to work with a certified Functional Medicine Health Coach? Find a coach to work with here.
Are you ready to start your own journey to becoming a health coach? For more information on our award-winning online training program, download our Info Packet.