Health and Wellness Coaching
How can health and wellness coaching nourish your soul?
Health and wellness coaching is a rapidly growing strategy that encompasses the sciences of positive psychology, behaviour change, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle medicine delivered through one to one relationships, teamwork and community.
It provides the education, mindset and motivation to help drive positive behaviour change and integrate holistic, personalised strategies for optimising health and wellbeing.
According to the Australia and New Zealand Health Coaches Association (HCANZA), a trained health and wellness coach focuses on guiding and assisting you to develop the “resilience advantage” that long term behaviour change then delivers in health and wellness outcomes. This form of coaching takes a facilitative - as opposed to a prescriptive - approach, with the handing over of responsibility to the client.
Health and wellness coaching is not regulated in Australia or NZ, so it is worth checking if the coach you hire is a registered member of HCANZA, which is supported by key stakeholders and is working towards building a credible self-regulatory framework that will allow health and wellness coaching to continue to flourish. The US-based National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching provides the highest qualification internationally in this field.
To ensure the coach you choose is the right fit for you, you can try a discovery call with them first, which will give you the opportunity to ask questions and find out if you feel comfortable partnering with them on your health and wellness journey.
Benefits of health and wellness coaching
Research shows that health and wellness coaching is an effective intervention to some specific chronic lifestyle-related diseases, and that it is potentially effective for improving various aspects of behavioural change associated with increased wellbeing.
One study found that this form of coaching over a 12 month period helped to relieve chronic pain, achieving positive gains in pain intensity as well as aspects of physical and psychological health. The coaching included pain education, self-care skills training, goal-setting guidance, self-monitoring tools, social support, and career guidance.
Another study conducted by the Mayo Clinic in the US demonstrated significant benefits on 100 of its staff after just 12 weeks of health and wellness coaching, with improvements to overall quality of life, depressive symptoms and perceived stress levels. A further study demonstrated a change in status from high risk of cardiac incident to low risk of 57% for employees given health coaching, cardiac rehabilitation, nutritional, non-smoking and exercise programs over a 12 month period. An evidence-based program conducted in the US concluded that health coaching provided interventions that are effective in the global “war” against potentially preventable, non-communicable, chronic diseases.
According to the Global Wellness Institute, preventative health and wellness is now a strong focus of governments and institutions, with free health and wellness coaching being offered in many communities around the world.
Health and wellness coaching may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Alcohol and drug addiction
- Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
- Communication and self-expression
- Concentration, focus and problem solving
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Conflict resolution
- Fears and phobias
- Insomnia and sleep disorders
- Love and Relationships
- Mental health
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Stress and tension
- Weight control and obesity
What to expect from a health and wellness coaching session
A health and wellness coach will partner with you on your journey, supporting you to use your self-awareness, insights and personal strengths to develop self-management strategies for lasting behavioural change. They will, therefore, need to get to know you reasonably well. They will begin with defining your goals or desired changes, identifying any health issues, learning as much as they can about your lifestyle, and the things that motivate or challenge you.
Sessions are usually an hour, held weekly or fortnightly, and may run for three months or even a year, depending on your individual circumstances. They can be online or in person and may be one to one, or in a group setting, depending on what you choose. Regular check-ins with your coach will help keep you accountable and on track.
A health and wellness coach may give you a questionnaire to fill out in order to get to know you a little better, and help you to track and measure your progress. Some offer support via text message, phone or email in between sessions.
The Global Wellness Institute says health and wellness coaches should do the following.
Support clients in defining their wellness vision and where they want to go.
Help clients identify their desired changes.
Encourage clients to set their own goals that are specific and achievable.
Inspire and build client confidence in their ability to make the desired changes.
Help clients identify solutions to work through obstacles that may arise.
Provide expertise in the area they hold nationally recognized credentials, but only when the client indicates the need to engage with these.
Upon request of the client, provide evidence-based resources, from nationally-recognized bodies to help them make informed choices.
Meet the client where they are in the context of their whole life.
Know when to refer the client for specific consultation with a health specialist.
Work collaboratively with health specialists to support individual treatment plans for sustainable positive change.
Provide feedback on goals that could cause harm.
Respect cultural values.
Your health and wellness coach wants to work with you to assist you in reaching your goals and improving your health. However, a coach does not take the place of a medical professional. Coaching may involve the discussion of personal subjects, and if you believe it may bring up any emotional distress, do speak to your medical professional before commencing sessions.