Is a health and wellness coach what you need? Find out

February 18, 2022 - 12 min read

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What is a wellness coach?

Who should be a wellness coach?

Life versus wellness coach: what's the difference?

How do I know that I need a wellness coach?

5 things to look for in a wellness coach

Living a healthy, balanced life is simple in theory. Eating well, exercising daily, being kind to yourself, and keeping to a regular sleep schedule are the basics. 

But life happens. Sometimes, we can't take care of ourselves as we should. Careers, families, emergencies, and illnesses can all get in the way. Plus, if we don’t care for ourselves, we can’t properly care for others. 

There’s no shame in asking for help to handle things better. We all have times when we need help with personal and professional motivation. If the stressors in your life are piling up, you may want to consider wellness coaching.

What is a wellness coach?

A wellness coach is a type of health care professional who aids clients in setting and achieving their health goals, typically around physical and emotional health. These objectives might include losing weight or improving their relationship with their body or food. Another common goal: finding motivation to make a change and stick to it. 

Wellness coaches focus on their client’s physical, emotional, and behavioral health. While the client often has a specific goal, the wellness coach typically addresses their lifestyle more holistically.

Their primary goal is to help others adopt a positive lifestyle and make behavior changes to support their goals. They may double as nutritionists or dietitians, helping people be more mindful of their eating habits

Coaches don’t have to work exclusively with clients on a one-on-one basis. They may also work at gyms, food stores, schools, clinics, and hospitals. Coaches empower people and also keep them accountable for their actions.

Wellness coaches actively practice a holistic approach to health. This means they treat the person as a whole rather than treating symptoms of a disease. This sets wellness coaching apart from other health practitioners. 

At BetterUp, we advocate for a Whole Person approach to human transformation through personal growth, social connection, mental fitness, and career and leadership development. Our coaching extends beyond wellness, but this is a common area where people first seek support.  We won’t sugarcoat the journey — change is difficult. But if you’re willing to put in the work, we are here to guide you as you navigate life and become the very best person you can be. 

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Who should be a wellness coach?

You can follow various paths to become a certified wellness coach like any career. Over time, this professional realm has imposed stricter guidelines around qualifications.

The National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) was created in 2016 to ensure the gold standard in coaching services. Aspiring coaches must pass a certification exam and participate in fieldwork.

If you’re wondering whether you or not would be a good wellness coach, here are some questions to ask yourself first:

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Life coach versus wellness coach: what's the difference?

Both life and wellness coaches work with clients to improve their well-being. There are differences between these two types of coaches, including their focus, training, and approach.  

What do life coaches do?

A life coach guides individuals toward improving their personal lives, careers, and relationships.

They primarily focus on helping people: 

  •  Realize a specific aspiration
  • Readjust their life goals
  • Create a plan and accountability to take steps toward a goal
  • Develop strategies to overcome specific hurdles standing between them and those goals

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What do wellness coaches do?

In comparison, a wellness coach focuses on physical and mental health goals. Their primary objective is to help you develop habits that fit and improve your overall lifestyle. A wellness coach tries to create a sustainable improvement in your well-being through lifestyle changes.

Sessions can range anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour. Your coach will ask you questions to get a sense of you as a person and what you want to achieve, and together you’ll outline steps to reach those goals. 

Coaches will provide you with homework to think about your aspirations before your follow-up sessions. Journaling is a great way to record this process. 

Your coach will make sure you follow through on the plan you devise. 

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How do I know that I need a wellness coach?

On average, it takes 66 days for a new habit to become ingrained within our minds. To get the best results, people typically work with a wellness coach for two to six months. If you’re trying to adopt multiple new habits at once, you’ll need to work with a coach for longer. 

Admitting that you need some help and support is the first step. Anyone can consult a coach. Some common reasons include: 

  1. Learning more effective stress management techniques
  2. Increasing your energy and motivation
  3. Losing weight
  4. Prioritizing self-care
  5. Eating healthier
  6. Exercising more or differently
  7. Mending your relationship with your body
  8. Readjusting after a serious illness, accident, or diagnosis
  9. Creating a work-life balance
  10. Being more positive

Most health and wellness coaches tend to focus on a specific area of health, like diabetes, smoking, or women’s health. When you’re looking for a coach, inquire about their passions and areas of expertise. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure to review their credentials.  Take time to find a coach who’s the right fit. 

Some people in need of accountability support find text therapy effective. This generally refers to accessing a mental health professional through a mobile app. You won’t have to wait for an appointment to speak to someone. Whether it works for you depends on your needs and personal circumstances and preferences. 

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5 things to look for in a wellness coach

When looking for a wellness coach, some things to look for include:

  1. Certification. Anyone can call themselves a coach, but saying it doesn’t make it so. Check that the coach’s education and resume include a certification program that’s recognized by the International Coaching Federal (ICF).
  2. Listening skills.  A coach should listen more than they talk. Any type of coach should be helping you develop skills to help yourself, not giving answers or a "program."
  3. Options, not “shoulds.” A coach is there to give advice and find solutions that best fit your needs and lifestyle, not force you to do this or that. 
  4. The right fit for your needs. That’s where it helps to know their areas of expertise. 
  5. A variety of programs. Many coaches offer different types of programs like one-on-one or group coaching sessions. Thanks to the high degree of connectivity that defines our society, there are endless options out there. Work with someone who can help you narrow down the field and find the best match. 

At BetterUp, we are here to make that choice much simpler: we want what’s best for you. Our certified coaches are here to offer personalized support, regardless of your situation and needs. 

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Published February 18, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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