health coach doing their job meeting with client

What Does a Health Coach Do and Do I Need One?

The first time I heard the term “Health Coach,” I was admittedly skeptical. I thought it was synonymous with “Life Coach.” But honestly, I had no idea what either one really did. As my interest in health and wellness grew, so did my interest in what a health coach does. I began to learn and understand what a health coach does and why someone might want to work with one.

A Bit About Health Coaching

Health coaching is a relatively new field that’s growing in popularity every day. And in a society that’s growing more heavily burdened with chronic disease every year, the specialty will only become more in demand. Health coaches focus on using evidence-based strategies like motivational interviewing to connect with clients and encourage behavior change. Research shows that the trusting peer-like relationship formed by health coaches and clients can help favorably modify behaviors that may result in improvements in multiple risk factors, including cholesterol, blood pressure, and body weight, among others.

What a Health Coach Isn’t

Before jumping in to discuss all of the things a health coach does, it’s important to draw a hard line and recognize the limitations of the health coach’s scope of practice. A health coach is not going to:

  • Diagnose or treat physical or mental health issues: Health coaches are not doctors and cannot help diagnose disease, prescribe drugs, or create treatment plans.
  • Make the changes for you: Just like a coach on a sports team doesn’t play in the field, a health coach helps you reach your potential from the sidelines. A health coach views their clients with unconditional positive regard and knows clients are fully capable of helping themselves. Sometimes everyone just needs a little help finding the way.
  • Tell you exactly what to do:  People are rarely open to change when someone is cramming it down their throats. (You need to do this cardio workout, you need to eat your broccoli, you need to go to bed at 9 and wake up at 6. Not super excited to get started, right?). The ultimate goal of health coaching is to have clients establish autonomy. We are literally working ourselves out of a job by instilling the habits and mindset that enables clients to make healthy choices all on their own.

What a Health Coach Does

Now for the exciting part; all of the wonderful ways a health coach helps their clients. A health coach is:

  • An advocate for your health: A health coach can work independently or as part of a broader care team to assist with making positive lifestyle changes. Whether you’re struggling with treating a chronic disease as diagnosed by a physician or want to lose the baby weight, a health coach is an advocate in your corner, continually putting your best interests at heart.
  • An expert on behavior change: Much of the training to become a health coach focuses on determining a person’s readiness to change and helping them progress along the change continuum. A health coach can walk you through creating new healthy habits and ridding yourself of any habits that are no longer serving you.
  • Your biggest supporter:  One of the biggest benefits of working with a health coach is their unwavering support. A health coach believes the power lies within you to make the positive changes you desire. And they are going to be there to support you every step of the way.
  • Ready to help you set and achieve goals: Goal-setting is a major component of a successful health coaching strategy. A health coach will help you develop achievable goals based on your desires and figure out the best ways to stay accountable to achieving them.

Why Would Someone Hire a Health Coach?

A health coach can offer the kind of one-on-one long-form conversations about health that you’re likely not getting from your physician. A health coach takes time to examine the inputs that may be causing you to feel lousy and help you come up with small changes to make to feel your best.

Health coaches regularly assist their clients with:

  • Stress reduction and management
  • Improving exercise habits
  • Altering nutrition habits
  • Support for a better night’s sleep
  • Management of chronic conditions like hypertension or diabetes
  • Cessation of unhealthy habits like tobacco or alcohol
  • Weight loss

Curious about working with a health coach and how it can benefit you or your company? Connect with me to learn more.

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