What is H&W coaching?
The U.S. National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC.org), a nonprofit organization that has created a professional standard for health and wellness coaching known as National Board Certification-Health & Wellness Coaching NBC-HWC, provides this working definition that identifies the elements of H&W coaching and underscores its utility in health care:
“H&W Coaches partner with clients seeking self-directed, lasting changes, aligned with their values, which promote health and wellness and thereby, enhance wellbeing. In the course of their work, H&W Coaches display unconditional positive regard for their clients and a belief in their capacity for change, and honoring that each client is an expert on his or her life, while ensuring that all interactions are respectful and non-judgmental.”
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OK, so what does a H&W coach really do?
H&W coaches work in different settings. Some work on healthcare teams alongside physicians and other allied health professionals as part of an integrative approach to client care. Other coaches work in digital health, community-based programs, or with private clients or groups.
H&W coaches train in behavior change theories, motivational strategies, and health education and promotion theories. We use these to support clients in creating and sustaining change for improved health and well-being.
How can you, Coach David, help me?
In our time together, I engage you in conversations that activate your internal strengths and help you identify the external resources in your life that will support your efforts to make sustainable and healthy lifestyle behavior changes. H&W coaching’s client-centered approach seeks to initiate and support you as you consider your interests, then we co-create goals you hope to realize your goals and Wellness Vision. This goal-setting happens as we help you engage in self-discovery and active learning processes, and self-monitoring of behaviors to increase accountability. A key component, e.g., the “secret sauce” that moves you down this road is that you don’t do this work alone. Coaches don’t drive the bus, you do, but coaching happens within the context of our interpersonal relationship.
As your coach, I collaborate with you from the beginning of our time together to build your wellness vision (WV) and set 3-month and shorter-term goals. During our sessions, I’ll interact with you to support your efforts until you achieve your desired outcomes. Coaches draw on skills and knowledge to walk alongside clients on their paths to being their healthiest selves.
What’s the actual format? How does this coaching relationship begin?
Typically, we begin with a brief introductory phone, in-person or email “conversation.”
If you are interested in moving forward and it seems like we are a good match, I send you an online (or it could be paper and pencil) Wellness Assessment survey that takes 30-45 minutes to complete and gives me background information about where you are on your health and wellness journey and what you are interested in working on together.
I review the Wellness Assessment and we schedule a time for our first session.
During session #1 I ask follow-up questions to learn about your motivators, your hopes, your interests and to get an understanding of your expectations. Our conversation is judgment-free, my job is to listen and learn. In the course of our conversation, I reflect back to you what I begin to understand and you clarify and add to what I am learning. Through this kind of interaction, we devise a wellness vision (WV) that outlines where you’d like to be in a year and a set of 3-month goals. These 3-month goals are mid-range incremental steps toward achieving the WV. We finish our first session by identifying a few goals you will work towards before we meet again, in either a week or about 10 days, depending on which coaching package you choose.
What are the coaching sessions after that first one like?
We’ll meet, either in person or via Zoom or by phone on a regular basis for about three months. Some clients prefer to meet every week while others like to meet about every 10 days. Either choice is fine. Weekly meetings tend to last about 30-35 minutes, if we are meeting every 10 days, they can run 45 minutes.
Clients find that three months is a good jumping off point for an effort to identify behaviors to change and for beginning to make progress. That’s why many coaches and coaching organizations suggest beginning with a three-month (9 to 12 session) commitment.
After the initial three-month engagement, what comes next?
Coaching is flexible, we’ll find a schedule that works for you.