How can you find the best health coach for you, if you’re seeking a partner to help you create lasting changes?
Health coaching is a relatively new profession. Training, credentials, and expectations slowly have been established during the past decade. And as awareness grows about what coaching offers, so will the interest in working with a coach.
Adopting healthier eating habits? Beginning or resuming an exercise plan? Figuring out how to get more and better sleep? Or focusing on how to reduce stress or create change in a different lifestyle area?
A professional health coach can help you with any or all of that, and more.
So how can you choose the best partner for your unique life and situation?
The answer begins with knowing what you want.
Are you looking for someone to tell you exactly what you should do and how to do it? If yes, then you’re looking for a trainer, educator, or consultant – not a professional health coach.
But if you’ve tried what other people say worked for them – and you can’t seem to make it work in your life – or if you bristle when someone seems to think they know what’s best for you, a health coach might be a better fit.
What Does a Health Coach Do?
A professional health or wellness coach is all about helping you live your best possible life. The coach won’t give you a set plan that you must follow. And the coach probably won’t tell you what worked for them, because you’re you.
Instead, the coach will help you discover your motivations, strengths, goals, and stumbling blocks. And together, you will co-create plans and strategies using some proven methods and processes. You’re in it together, because making changes by yourself is difficult.
Studies show that working with a health coach can improve outcomes for people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer. And, coaching holds potential as an effective intervention for some people with chronic pain, depression, and anxiety.
Coaching is not therapy, though. But it can be therapeutic.
4 Tips to Find the Best Health Coach
So if working with a professional health coach sounds intriguing, here are four tips to help you find a coach for you.
First, if you already have selected some potential coaches, learn a bit about the prospective coaches’ training programs and if the coaches hold a credential from a professional coaching organization.
Education and Credential?
The National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) and the International Coaching Federation (ICF) – two separate organizations – approve training programs and credential coaches.
ICF began 25 years ago and is an organization of and for many types of coaches, not only health and wellness coaches. NBHWC, founded in 2012, focuses only on health and wellness coaching. Each organization also offers a “find a coach” option on their website, if you need help identifying prospective coaches.
Both organizations develop coaching core competencies and issue professional credentials. This ensures standards and ethics for the profession. If your preferred coach doesn’t have a credential, and you’re concerned about “quality control,” check to see if the coach completed a training program from an ICF or NBHWC approved provider.
Currently, anyone can create a training program and hand out a “certification,” and anyone can call themselves a health or wellness coach. Professional coaches affiliated with ICF and/or NBHWC have been trained according to certain coaching standards and agree to maintain the ethics of the profession.
Experience and expertise?
Second, discover what experience and expertise the coach has. If you cannot determine this from the coach’s website and/or social media, ask about it (and their education) when you talk with them. Has the coach worked with others who’ve focused on what you’re wanting to address? What experience or expertise do they have helping you and others navigate toward your particular goals?
Fit and connection?
That brings us to tip #3. Check for a fit and connection between you and your prospective coach. Most professional coaches offer a brief no-strings-attached discovery call. If they don’t offer it, it’s OK to ask for one. This is an opportunity to see if this is someone you can be comfortable talking and working with, and if the health topic you want to focus on is suitable for coaching.
Do you feel safe and heard? Does the coach say anything that resonates? Trust your instincts.
What’s the Agreement?
Finally, look for a coach who’s clear about the hats they wear. A coach can have multiple roles in their life – as a coach, consultant, trainer, or educator. But it must be clear in the relationship which hat they’re wearing with you. A professional coach will have a written agreement with you that outlines how you’ll work together.
Will you meet via telephone or video chat? How long and often will you meet? What’s the commitment? You’ll be investing time and money into coaching, so terms should be clear. And this clarity will benefit your partnership, as you start to co-create plans to help you live your best life.
Health coaching is a dynamic, supportive relationship built on mutual trust and respect. By doing your homework before hiring a coach, you’ll more likely find a good fit for you.
So, in review, here are the four tips to find the best health coach for you:
Learn about the coach’s training and any credentials held. Inquire about the coach’s experience and expertise in any particular areas. Check for a good fit during a discovery call. And ask about the coaching relationship and agreement.
Here’s to you, and your best life and health!
Amy Hoogervorst is a national board-certified health and wellness coach. She helps people create and sustain new habits in pursuit of improved health and well-being. You can schedule a free discovery call with Amy here and subscribe here for her free e-newsletter, the Well Check.