Wellness Coaching is an emerging field in Lifestyle Medicine that I believe will become more mainstream as we begin to recognise the importance of taking charge of our own health.
Most people are unaware and a little bit dubious when they hear the term “wellness coaching” so here is some info about what coaching is, isn’t, and the things you might want to consider asking a coach before you decide to use their services.
What is Wellness Coaching?
Coaching is the process of coming alongside you as you define your own vision and goals for your future. Coaching is about offering you support whilst you are making the changes that you have defined and are motivated towards, celebrating wins and keeping you accountable to these goals. I love what it says on the Wellness Coaching Australia Website: “Have you ever wondered what creates the gap between what people say they want and what they actually do? Wellness Coaching can close this gap. Combining theory from Coaching Psychology, Behaviour Change and Positive Psychology, we help clients overcome resistance to change by using a step by step, structured approach.”
What is the difference between wellness coaching and other forms of coaching?
Wellness coaching is a type of coaching related specifically to lifestyle. Wellness coaches engage with clients who are interested specifically in making changes to improve their well-being. This is a broad term- it can cover areas such as work, relationships, exercise, sleep stress etc.
How and why is the ‘coach approach’ different to the expert approach?
Experts bring a wealth of knowledge on a specific area in order to tell or teach people about a certain area or topic (IE a GP, or a lecturer at university). Experts usually spend a lot more time on the topic/area/subject than the client coming to see them. Experts solve problems for clients while coaches do not prescribe assistance or come up with solutions. Coaches listen. A great listener will be able to help you to find your own solutions to problems, linger in places that are sometimes uncomfortable and figure out where to from here in a way that is unique to your situation. You are leading the way, the coach is alongside for support and encouragement.
What is the difference between coaching and therapy?
Wellness Coaches are NOT therapists and this is a really important differentiation to make. Coaches don’t delve into past traumatic experiences, neither do they work with clients who are in distress. Coaching is future oriented and very client driven towards solutions. Coaches DO NOT manage mental health disorders. Wellness Coaches do know what to look for that may indicate that a client needs expert support, advice or assistance relating to mental health. A Wellness Coach should always refer on to a qualified mental health expert if this is required.
Is Wellness Coaching actually a real thing?!
Yes it actually is, and I am super glad you asked! I’m all about evidence and there are no shortage of quick fix sells on the internet that boast all kinds of promises. I decided to study with Wellness Coaching Australia because when I did some research, I could see they too care about evidence. Fiona Cosgrove, principal at WCA recently announced “our application to the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching (ICHWC) for our Professional Certificate in Health and Wellness had been approved! And we are proud to be the first international course provider to receive that approval. As a result, our graduates will be eligible to apply for National Board Certification and become “Board Certified” Health and Wellness Coaches, the highest international qualification in our field.”
This is exciting news and was a huge effort on the behalf of WCA. My current certificate allows me to work as a coach in my own business and I look forward to continuing my study in order to be eligible to become board certified in the future as well. While Wellness Coaching is an emerging field, I chose to do my coursework through a provider that values evidence and is helping to shape the future of the Wellness Coaching industry.
What to ask when you are looking for a Wellness Coach:
Margaret Moore (AKA Coach Meg) founded Wellcoaches Corporation, the first School of Coaching for health professionals. Wellcoaches are considered ‘gold standard’ in all things related to wellness coaching and are in partnership with the American College of Sports Medicine and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Coach Meg recommends asking the following 4 questions when looking for a coach:
- What is your particular interest, and what expertise and knowledge does the coach have in relation to that?
When you are working with a coach, you will want to find someone who is on the same page as you. For example, if you are really interested in plant based eating but your coach is a champion for paleo, this might not be such a great combination. Although coaches don’t impose their beliefs on clients, it will be a lot easier if the you have an interest in similar areas.
- What coach training and credentialing does the coach have?
This is super important. These days there are a lot of people out there claiming to be something when they’re not. When someone has put the effort in to do the appropriate training or education, they will invite people’s interest in this information. It shouldn’t be hard to find their background and training information on their site. Just because a website looks fantastic doesn’t mean the person behind it is the real deal!
- What life experience has the coach had (IE education and career)?
Ask questions! Educated people love sharing information about where they studied, how their career path lead them to where they are today and what their passion is. This is all great information that will help you in finding the right coach for your situation.
- Does this seem like the right match?
Once you have chatted to the coach, ask yourself: do you feel excited and ready to start? If you have found the right match, you will should feel a little bit inspired, curious and comfortable with the coach. Don’t settle until you find the right coach for you! Finding a coach who has something in common with you and building a good rapport will enhance your journey towards wellness. So shop around and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
I hope this article gives you a little insight into the world of coaching and how it can be of benefit to you. I’m really looking forward to helping people grow in their own ability to take charge of their health and make positive, lasting change. You don’t have to be where you are today, tomorrow.
Keen to discuss coaching more? Get in touch – I’d love to hear from you!
Additional Reference: Coaching Psychology Manual