Despite the significant advances in medical science, there are many people who are still unhealthy. They are overweight, stressed, or indulging in unhealthy behaviors like smoking and/or excessive alcohol and drug use. Time spent in a doctor’s office is usually minimal, and doctors’ schedules are so packed that they may simply address the issue of wellness by imploring patients to live in more intelligent ways or by delivering a sound lecture on the evils of certain behavior.
This often doesn’t help the issue or encourage people to change, but suggesting a patient get wellness coaching instead might. A wellness coach is a trained person who will work one on one with clients to help them find ways to pursue a healthier lifestyle.
The wellness coaching field is fairly new, and began in the late 1990s. It is not the same as having a personal trainer, since exercise is not always the behavioral change that needs to occur. In contrast, a person who is a wellness coach works with clients to encourage them to change aspects of their lives that are most unhealthy, and this could include changing dietary habits, getting more exercise, or quitting smoking. However, a good coach won’t simply tell people they have to start dropping or engaging in behaviors. They’ll work with a client to figure out how present life contributes to those behaviors, and what can be done to change living so behavior change is easier.
As a National Board Certified Health and Wellness coach, I am asked this question almost daily: What is a Health and Wellness Coach? I usually respond analogously by saying, “It’s a similar idea to why you would hire a swimming coach to improve your swimming skills. If you want to improve your wellness skills, you hire a wellness coach.” A swimming coach will provide his client with an objective perspective to help you make specific improvements to the client’s technique that could dramatically improve his performance. The same goes for wellness coaching.
Clients may be unaware of areas in their life they could alter slightly that would have dramatic impact on their lifestyle balance, which would be one example of a way wellness coaching could help you.
The role of a Health or Wellness coach is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. The coach will act as a partner to collaborate with a client on working towards his/her own unique and optimal state of well-being. A health/wellness coach differs in approach from a personal trainer or a nutritionist in that they will work with the client from a non-prescriptive standpoint, which means they will not tell the client what direction is best for them to go in. Rather, they will encourage and empower the client to make the choices that are most appropriate for him/her and their individual situation.
A health/wellness coach will essentially work with each client on how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives instead of what habits to create. Through the supportive and self-empowering environment provided by a wellness coach, a client can learn what kinds of things he/she may personally experience each time he/she undergoes making changes in his/her life.
As clients gain clarity about their own personal health values, and align their behaviors with these values, their sense of purpose will be heightened. By living in congruence with their values, they are also allowing themselves the opportunity to grow in their confidence and self-worth.
Not everyone is a good candidate for wellness coaching. Some may be too old or sick to change. Others may simply be unmotivated. The ideal client is someone who may not be doing anything bad, but they’re not doing the good things, either, they are not eating well, they are not exercising, they are stressed or “stuck” and they are not making progress.
Health/Wellness coaches have been working to increase awareness about this new field among medical professionals. However, although the idea is becoming increasingly popular with the public, it’s only beginning to catch on with doctors. Physician referral to coaches is still at an early stage and there is not insurance reimbursement.
The more you value your life and your health, the better you will take care of yourself in mind, body and spirit.