People typically have questions about health coaching, whenever I introduce myself as a coach.
And often, depending on the time someone has to talk, the questions start out general and then move to the specific and personal.
Perhaps you have a few questions yourself.
So today, let’s take a look at some of these frequently asked questions about coaching, and some answers. We’ll start with the most general one first:
What is health coaching? Coaching is an intentional partnership between a trained, professional coach and a client.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Typically, the client wants or needs to achieve a specific outcome. The coaching process and partnership often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity, and leadership.
And in health coaching, this client-centered process involves putting information into action. Moving forward with a doctor’s recommendation that’s been difficult to implement, perhaps. Considering places you feel stuck, maybe around one of the four pillars of health, and creating a new path.
And figuring out how to change specific behaviors that can lead to better health outcomes.
That leads us to the next question, which is more specific.
The 2nd question I get asked about coaching
After I share what health coaching is, the conversation sometimes turns to a nagging issue.
“I know I need to _______,” the individual may say, teeing up the question to come. “Will you give me a plan to achieve that?”
This is such a helpful question to ask right away. When we have a problem, we’re used to someone else offering the fix. How often have you heard about (or tried) the end-all, be-all way to get more sleep, lose weight, exercise, avoid sugar, follow a certain diet, or change your life forever?
And what happened? If you weren’t able to follow the set plan that someone else created and advised you to follow, you may have ended up feeling like a failure. Back to square one. And you know the self-talk that comes with that.
So, no, I don’t give you a set plan. In coaching, we use failure as fuel. In fact, we shift the mindset around failure. When things don’t go as planned, in coaching we dive deeper, to learn from that as well as from what went right. Through non-judgmental dialogue, goal setting, and accountability, you may start to recognize that perhaps you didn’t fail those old plans; they failed you.
Health coaching is a partnership that allows you, with support, to create a plan that fits your unique life and circumstances. It’s not one-size-fits-all.
And … the third question?
Is coaching like therapy?
Coaching is not therapy. Although both relationships provide support for an individual, therapy is outside the scope of practice for a coach. I have worked with coaching clients who also see a therapist. But there are clear distinctions between the two modalities.
“Coaching focuses on visioning, success, the present, and moving toward the future,” explains an ICF whitepaper. “Therapy emphasizes psychopathology, emotions, and the past to understand the present, and it works more with developing skills for managing emotions or past issues than does coaching.”
Psychotherapists and other licensed mental-health professionals are trained to diagnose and treat mental issues. Coaches are not, unless they also hold a license as a mental-health professional. Then, it must be clear to the client which hat the coach is wearing – that of therapist, or that of coach.
Coaches, who are credentialed and not licensed, do not dig into the past or work on “issues.” They assume clients are naturally resourceful, creative, and whole. And together, coaches and clients work to set goals, remove obstacles, and move forward with action and insight.
If needed, coaches do refer clients to mental-health professionals and other support and resources.
The past 2+ years have been a lot, and it’s wise to seek professional help to work through challenges. The support you need will depend on your focus and purpose for seeking help.
What questions do you have about coaching?
Do you have questions about coaching that weren’t answered here? Share your question below or send me a note through my contact form.
For more resources, click here if you need to find a therapist. If you want to know more about how to find the best health coach for you, click here. If you’re interested in how coaching with me might benefit you, click here to schedule a free discovery call.
Amy Hoogervorst is a national board-certified health and wellness coach, offering grace and space for a healthier you. She works with individuals and in groups to help people pause for a moment to focus on themselves, align their actions to what they want most, and create healthier habits that stick.