Health Coaching Defined
Health coaching is a relationship between the client and the Health Coach with the objective of assisting the client with achieving his or her personal health and wellness goals. Health coaching uses simple behavior modification principles to assist people to make health lifestyle changes.
Following the completion of a brief health risk assessment, an initial meeting takes place between the coach and the client. During this session the client will generally begin to discuss the issues that have been preventing them from achieving optimal health and wellness. The coach and the client will then discuss short term and long term goals, and develop a plan to achieve those goals.
The client will usually meet weekly or more often if needed with the health coach. These meetings are used to assess the progress of the client, adjust the plan, or to simply provide support and accountability for the client. The client has the opportunity to discuss any obstacles he or she might have encountered during the previous week. At the conclusion of the meeting, an action plan is developed for the upcoming week. The client can generally dictate the topic of each meeting, but it is the responsibility of the coach to guide the client to remain on topics that affect his or her health and wellness. The health coach is not a psychologist, but some strategies employed by psychologists are also useful in health coaching. The topics generally relate to stress management, diet, physical activity, weight management and life issues which impact wellness.
Clients work with the Health Coach to design a personal health and wellness plan. The client and the coach should agree to design a minimum of a 3-month wellness plan, as this is the amount of time needed for most individuals to make behavioral changes that will become a part of his or her healthy lifestyle. People who choose to work with a Health Coach are usually ready to make some type of change in their lifestyle. They envision a life where stress is more easily managed, where they are in control of their weight, and fitness becomes a regular activity. They can see how their life will improve if they are truly well, but have not yet succeeded on their own. For this reason, the health coach as a big responsibility to the client and should take each session seriously.
The goal of the Health Coach is to make the client self-sufficient in making the necessary changes in his or her lifestyle. There is no set time limit regarding how long this takes, as each client has different needs and responds to the coaching at different rates. The Health Coaching process will help the client to get over the initial “hump” of resistance, learn what works for him or her and what doesn’t, and put the client on the path to improve health and wellness.