What is Health and Wellness Coaching?
Health Coaching is often referred to as Wellness Coaching. It is a process that facilitates sustainable behavioral change that results in improved health and lifestyle for the client. The coach is an integral part of the process in which the client develops the capacity to make the changes that will produce the desired outcomes the client is wanting to achieve.
What Health Challenges Can Coaching Affect?
Coaching is most effective for health conditions caused by behavior and lifestyle. Pre Diabetes, Type II Diabetes, and the cluster diseases associated with Type II Diabetes such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension, etc., are great examples of conditions a health/wellness coach can assist clients effectively in reversing the consequences they are suffering because of these conditions.
Other conditions a health/wellness coach can be effective in are chronic pain, PTSD, alcohol and drug misuse and addiction, cancer recovery, eating disorders, behavioral addictions: gambling and sexual addictions. Grief recovery, sexual abuse recovery and death and dying are examples where a traumatic experience causes behavioral change that a client wants to reverse. Coaching is uniquely designed for this type of work.
Recovering from any health condition is a journey. Changing behavior when one is in the best of health is often a challenge. Changing behavior when one has been diagnosed with an illness, especially when the diagnosis is unexpected, can be even more challenging. Accepting the reality of the situation is the first hurdle and then making decisions about next steps is crucial. A certified coach is a wonderful asset in this process.
How Health Coaching Works
The coaching agreement is designed specifically for each client and his or her individual needs. Traditionally, one-hour sessions once per week are the norm. However, in some cases, more support is needed especially in the beginning of the coaching relationship. Most coaches offer unlimited email access. What is most important is the agreement about how much support is needed and how that support will be available to the client. This is particularly important in alcohol and drug misuse clients. Defining acceptable access of support and delivery of that support is crucial.
Goal setting, structure, and accountability are important components of the coaching process. Non-judgment and understanding is key to successful outcomes. The coach creates an environment of trust so that the client is at ease to express his or her needs comfortably. This is intimate work. To change behavior one must understand the driver of the behavior. This is accomplished by looking at all aspect of life. Often life long habits must shift. Adjusting belief systems to allow change to occur are part of the process of long-term sustainable change.
Coaching is also fun. Self-exploration can be a wonderful experience. Setting goals and achieving goals is very satisfying. Making meaningful and lasting changes that enhance ones life can be very gratifying. Developing the strength and capacity to reach ones goals builds confidence and transforms lives. Working with a private coach who understands and supports you makes all the difference.
It is important to say what coaches do not do. They do not give advice, diagnose, prescribe treatment, or make decisions for clients. The client’s doctor provides diagnosis and treatment. The coach works with the client to achieve the health goals the doctor has suggested. Often clients seek out a health coach on their own without a diagnosis, wanting to make changes in eating habits, weight loss, and other lifestyle changes. This is fine. Coaches do not diagnose these clients or suggest a course of treatment. Rather, they assist the client in exploring options and making choices that fit for the client. In the case of alcohol or drug misuse, coaches work with clients to get misuse behavior under control or stopped if that is the goal of the client. Together coach and client weigh treatment options if the client feels treatment is necessary. It is the client who makes the decision. The coach’s job is to help the client move into action in a supportive manner.
How Long Does Change Take?
It takes as long as it takes. Progress depends on the individual and the health challenge he or she is facing. The coaching can take as little as 6 weeks or as long as a year or more. The client is the driver of the process. The coach creates the container and holds the agenda; the client must step up to take action. How quickly that occurs is up to the resolve of the client.