by Lisa Feiner, MBA, M.Ed. NBC-HWC

There are many professionals today who support us in various aspects of our lives: trainers who keep us physically fit, therapists who help us address our mental health, and business coaches who make us more effective in our jobs and careers. Where does a health and wellness coach fit into one’s life?

Unlike many other coaches, the primary role of a health coach is not to advise or instruct clients. Health and wellness coaching is a partnership, with the client setting the focus of each session. A coach helps the client gain confidence and awareness, thereby opening up possibilities for success. Session topics range the full gamut of life’s experiences, so one week may focus on relationships and the next might be a discussion about spirituality or wanting to find more joy in life. Listening deeply and asking probing questions allows a coach to partner with clients to clarify what they want, determine the steps they will take, and help them to reach their goals.

A health coach is bound by a code of ethics and will establish a written agreement with the client upon starting to work together. A sense of trust and open communication is most important. The coach and client work out a schedule of sessions and meet either in person or virtually. Sessions are usually offered over several months which permits enough time to establish new habits and patterns.

One of the most important aspects of health and wellness coaching is the client’s readiness to explore new ways of living that are more in line with their values and desires. A coach can be helpful by asking thoughtful questions, affirming what clients are saying, and then pointing out discrepancies in what they are hearing, and working with clients to brainstorm new ideas. Clients begin to understand what has been blocking their progress, and at the end of a program period, they should feel a sense of accomplishment through achieving their goals.

Similar to working with other types of professionals, clients may need to speak to several coaches in order to find the health coach that will work best for their needs. Some coaches have specialty areas while others are generalists. Group coaching is also an option, and there are often financial and social advantages to exploring issues with other people who are going through similar experiences. Finding the right fit is important in developing a good relationship and having a successful experience.

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