What is a Health Coach?

Health coaching is a relatively new term that you may not be familiar with. You may have heard the term health coach before, but maybe you never really had a clear understanding of what one does. That is why we wanted to clear the air and tell you exactly what we do!

You might be wondering why has health coaching emerged? The explanation is actually fairly simple. The traditional methods of health teaching have not worked very well and evidence-based health coaching has been shown to improve health outcomes. For example, the Mayo Clinic (Healthcare Intelligence Network, 2007) achieved the following outcomes with their health coaching population:

*Nearly 50% lost weight and maintained weight loss

*64% increased exercise time

*61% increased healthy eating choices

*42% of tobacco users quit at 6 months and 37% remained tobacco free at 12 months [National Society of Health Coaches (NSHC), 2015].

So, what is health coaching? In order to get a better understanding of what health coaching actually consists of, let's first explain what traditional health teaching is like. The goal of traditional health teaching is to essentially direct information "at" you, the client. In short, it is more of a "Do as I instruct you to" kind of healthcare model.

Health coaching, on the other hand, is "Designed to engage and guide you to talk about your health within the social context of your life, what is most troubling to you about your conditions, what you most want to change, what support(s) you have to foster change, and what you are willing to do to advocate healthy behavior and better habits." (NSHC, 2015).

Health coaches work with you to help you discover and explore the reasons why you may be uncertain about making health behavior changes. Our focus is on YOU, the client and not the health information. The focus isn't on us, but on your goal(s) and your agenda. We are here to help you to identify and use available support systems so that you can achieve health behavior change. It is very important to us that you be an active participant in your own health care. We know that health behavior change comes from you, the client, which makes you the "true" change agent. We also know that you will find the most success when you are the one leading your life and setting your goals, not someone else.

Finally, health coaches are credentialed and have professional liability to use clinical evidence-based practice interventions, your condition, and medical history to safely guide goal setting, health teaching, and to give "medical" advice as the need arises within our professional scope of practice (NSHC, 2015).

We hope that this article has helped you to better understand what a health coach is/does and how having a health coach can empower you to lead the successful life that you desire!

To learn more about who we are and the programs/services that we offer, click the image below.

Health and happiness,

Alicia Williamson RN, BSN, MSNW, CHC


Kylie Glastetter BA, MS, EP-C, CHC


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