Integrative Health Blog

What to Look For in a Wellness Coach

Posted by NIHA Staff on Tue, Dec 13, 2016

coach_balance_AdobeStock_90050922.jpegIf we search the internet and look for a wellness coach, there are a plethora of advertisements for wellness coaches, life coaches and health coaches. To some extent the terms are used interchangeably- but there are indeed differences.

Health coaches work with what the name implies: health and fitness.

Life coaches work mainly with career, finances and relationships, but in some instances are wellness coaches that have “rebranded” themselves.

Wellness coaches  are trained to work with clients on any aspect of their lives that they want to address. While life coaches and health coaches will generally tell you what to do, wellness coaches try to help you find what is inside you to help you reach your goals.

So it sounds a bit confusing, and indeed it is. The truth is that there is very little regulation in the field of coaching, and anyone can call himself a coach. So, where to begin?

A few suggestions on finding a Wellness Coach:

Decide What Your Goals Are

Decide what kind of coaching you are looking for. As with any practice, coaches specialize in certain areas. Find ones that deal with the area that you want to address. Call them or email them to discuss the possibility of working together. See if it is a good fit before wasting your time and money.

Check Training and Credentials

Make sure that they have adequate training and/or experience. There are certifications available that require as little as 6 months training. The gold standard in the field of wellness coaching are programs that are accredited by the International Coaching Federation, also known as ICF. These programs are most often offered as a post baccalaureate certificate or a master’s degree. The training can take from 18 months to 2 years. To be certified by the ICF, a coach must meet stringent requirements, adhere to a code of ethics, and like most licensed practitioners, continually submit to evaluation for renewal of their certification.

Have Realistic Expectations

Beware of coaches that cast a wide net. Some coaches claim that they can fix anything and advertise a litany of areas that they can address. This is worrisome as true wellness coaching helps the client to work on their desired areas of improvements. Coaches help you help yourself. ICF ethics state that we do not treat pathology. Coaches can inform and educate, and help you to define your goals, but ultimately your health is dependent upon your own choices and the choices of your health care practitioner. A wellness coach cannot fix anything, only you can.

Change is Hard!  Get a Wellness Coach to Motivate and Guide You

Decide if you really want to change. Are you ready to make a commitment? Change is slow and often requires a great deal of sacrifice and effort. We often don’t like an aspect of our life but are unwilling to change the behavior that is causing the problem. If you really want change, then a wellness coach can help you to see more clearly what you need to do, work with you to create a plan, and hold you accountable for your commitment to change. And encourage and support you on the journey, celebrating the baby steps that move you in the right direction toward your goal.