The Role of a Health Coach

Health Coaching is a relatively new field and because of this there is some confusion. What is it that a health coach does? Are there expectations and limitations in regard to your role as a certified health coach?

The National Consortium for Credentialing Health & Wellness Coaches summarises the role of a health coach:

“Health and Wellness Coaches partner with clients seeking self-directed, lasting changes, aligned with their values, which promote health and wellness and, thereby, enhance well-being. Health and wellness coaches display unconditional positive regard for their clients and a belief in their capacity for change, and honouring that each client is an expert on his or her life, while ensuring that all interactions are respectful and non-judgmental.” Let’s break down 10 of the primary duties expected of a certified health coach 1. Clarify the Client Needs and Desires Listening is an important skill. Using a technique called active listening the coach reflects back to the client what was just expressed to reassure, clarify, and confirm an understanding. Whenever necessary, the coach asks open-ended questions to reveal the client’s own inner guidance. 2. Assist in Goal-Setting A person seeks out coaching with a certain goal in mind. It’s quite common for this goal to be about establishing better habits to achieve weight loss. A health coach assists by asking questions that allow them to collaboratively define the goal so that it is client-driven, and articulated in a clear, reasonable, and actionable way.

3. Create Accountability One of the greatest benefits of hiring a health coach is the external accountability provided by the coach. Accountability goes a long way, and many clients will say that just having a coach makes them feel more accountable. 4. Foster Increased Self-Awareness One-on-one health coaching is so effective thanks to the interactions between coach and client, which help clients recognise and identify patterns of thought or behaviour that may prevent them from reaching a goal.

5. Build Self-Efficacy for Positive Change It is a coach’s ultimate goal to conclude a coaching relationship with certainty so that the client is able to sustain the positive changes they’ve achieved. This is entirely possible when the coach helps build the client’s self-efficacy—their belief about their own ability to meet and solve their own challenges. 6. Provide Educational Resources It’s our job as health coaches to provide resources and tools that make behavior adjustments easier for clients. A health coach supplements their own knowledge and skills by sharing trusted resources and educational materials that relate to the client’s areas of interest.

7. Use Non-Judgmental Communication The coach displays empathy, use nonjudgmental language and responses, and use positive psychology that focuses on client strengths rather than weaknesses. Together, these communication styles strengthen the client-coach bond, and long-lasting change is more probable. 8. Connect Behavior Change With Deep Motivations Assisting in behavioural change is one of the most essential duties of a health coach, and it is also one of the most defining differences between a health coach and other health-focused professionals. An effective health coach uses questions and communication techniques, such as motivational interviewing, that help clients discover their own motivation for change.

9. Help Prevent and Overcome Environmental Obstacles More often than not, people resist behavioural change or fall back into their old ways because they regress in the face of obstacles. Obstacles occur in a variety of areas, like a client’s schedule, coworkers, finances, family life, social pressures, etc. Health coaches work with clients to optimise their environment for the greatest odds of wellness success.

10. Collaborate for Comprehensive Support A health coach not only collaborates with the client but also with other wellness experts. When an issue arises outside of the function of a health coach, the client is referred to the appropriate licensed professional.

- Primal Health Coach Institute