I wrote a version of this article years ago, before I became a health coach. It’s still relevant information for anyone considering hiring a health coach.
Coaching has become a leadership development trend for corporate executives in recent years, but most of the rest of us haven’t quite caught on to how valuable the coaching process can be when specifically focused on health. You don’t have to be an elite athlete, embrace a fad diet, or hire a personal trainer to benefit greatly from health coaching. Coaching is helpful whenever there’s a change that needs to be made. And, quite frankly, most of us need to make some changes to support better health.
I like to think of coaching as both a style of conversation and a transformative process that helps you own your personal commitment to change. Working with a health coach allows you to clarify not only what you want in terms of your health, but what tools will work best to help you get there.
Whether you are making a significant lifestyle change (such as losing weight or stopping smoking), going through a health transition (like preparing for or recovering from surgery), or facing a lifetime of suffering due to a chronic health condition, health coaching could be beneficial for you.
Some of the benefits of hiring a health and wellness coach include:
- Determine your health priorities. Your health coach will help you determine how your goals align with your core values and prioritize those goals so that achieving them becomes a realistic and achievable endeavor rather than a nebulous dream.
- Identify the obstacles. What keeps getting in the way of achieving your goals? Everyone has habits and ways of thinking that work against your own best interests. Your health coach will help you identify and overcome ineffective behavior patterns and develop new strategies that work.
- Get motivated and stay that way. Motivation is the rocket fuel of accomplishment. Your coach can help you get and stay motivated toward achieving your health goals by helping you engage with your health and wellness in new and pleasurable ways.
- Be accountable. Taking consistent actions toward achieving your health-related goals is easier said than done. Having someone to “report to” and “cheer you on” greatly increases your likelihood of following through and achieving your goals.
- Acquire new skills. Health coaches teach and help and help you practice valuable new skills that support your wellness. Depending on your needs and the specialty of your coach, you could be learning new meditation and breathing techniques, new styles of conversation, energetic self-care, stretching, tai chi, cooking and more.
- Increase your baseline quality of life. When you work with a holistic health coach (like me) you’ll be activating your mind-body connection, reframing old beliefs, and aligning your actions with your core values, so your experience of personal fulfillment can’t help but improve.
Health coaching is not for everyone…
Coaching of any type works best when you are ready to make a change. Your health coach will ask powerful questions to help you align your health goals and action steps with your personal values, provide you with science-based information and resources to ensure that your approach is safe and sound, and empower you with effective tools to keep you on track toward meeting and maintaining your health goals. You’ll be challenged on many levels, and you need to be ready to face these challenges.
There are 3 important things to remember when working with a health coach:
- Your coach doesn’t do the work, you do. Period. That’s part of why you need to be ready to make the change.
- Coaching is not the same as therapy. Therapy tends to focus on the past, and encourages a client to delve deeper into their feelings with ultimate outcome of restoring function. Coaching focuses on the present and the future and emphasizes taking action for the highly desirable outcome of reaching your full potential. Sometimes, a client will engage the help of a both a therapist and a coach simultaneously to benefit from the best of both approaches.
- Coaching is NEVER a substitute for medical advice or treatment, even if your health coach has medical credentials or training.
The key to success with health coaching is finding the right health coach for you.
Because the coaching process involves interpersonal dialogue where you need to feel safe and open to sharing the details of your health situation and the depth of your feelings, your health coach should be someone you feel comfortable with and can trust completely.
Look for health coaches who are trained, skilled, and certified in health specialty areas that closely align with your needs. Most coaches offer a free consultation session, so take advantage of that, and speak with several coaches before you choose.