What is health coaching?
There's so much information out there about health, diet and fitness, a lot of it contradictory and confusing. How can you make sense of it all? And when do you have the time to break it all down to ensure you're doing the right thing for you?
A health coach is a trained professional who can support people navigate health challenges and excel despite them. Health coaches will be trained in various health-related topics, such as fitness and nutrition. Some health coaches may also have their own experience of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, and therefore will be able to share their first-hand expertise.
The purpose of a health coach is to help clients make positive, long-term changes to their health, providing information, encouragement, support and accountability along the way.
Health coaching can give you the skills, confidence and knowledge to take control of your health and maximise your sense of wellbeing. Health coaches offer a non-judgemental, empathetic and supportive space to help you reach your health goals. Working with a health coach also means you'll get a tailored action plan – and as good health is ultimately a highly personal endeavour, this can be invaluable.
Because many of us have embarked upon new health fads time and time again, we might find that we have developed certain patterns of behaviour. Maybe we start out motivated, but this quickly wanes. Maybe we self-sabotage. Maybe we haven't learned to have a balanced and self-compassionate attitude to seeking to improve our health. Health coaches will help you identify your personal roadblocks and overcome them.
What kinds of issues can a health coach help with?
Whether you are looking to manage your weight, quit smoking, get back on your feet after an accident or injury, or manage a serious health diagnosis, health coaching can help you. Whatever your personal aim or difficulty, health coaches are trained to gather a holistic idea of your situation and help you to curate a step-by-step plan to empower you to take charge of your health.
Health coaches will also be trained in being able to spot any potential red flags and encourage you to visit your GP or a specialist practitioner if needed.
While health coaches may have knowledge on a broad range of health topics, there are some issues that may require different interventions, or additional support from another professional. Addiction, for example, may have deep rooted psychological causes driving it, in which case working with a trained addiction counsellor may be a positive choice. You can find an addiction counsellor here.
How does health coaching work?
You will work one-to-one with your health coach to set manageable and beneficial health-related goals. Your coach will ask you questions to gather a holistic view of your present situation and the reasons why you want to reach certain goals. The 'whys' are important – coaches will help you identify where your motivation lies, and - if needed - help you to find more long-lasting, intrinsic motivation.
Motivation is key to success in all areas of our lives – without the right reasons behind doing something, we're much less likely to succeed. We are much more likely to come up against those same obstacles as we always have before.
As well as asking about your specific health situation, your coach may also ask you about your work, stress levels, relationships, your support network. This is because all of these factors contribute to someone's ability to be healthy – it's more than just about your diet and exercise routine.
Once you have made a plan with your health coach, they will help you to stay on track, checking in with your progress and changing goals as and when needed.
Further reading on coaching
Coaching for specific issues
Different types of coaching
Last updated 20 November 2020