Imagine a client who wants to make long-term behavioral changes to improve his or her health. This client may not be interested in being told how to do a specific exercise or what exactly to eat for every meal and snack; the client needs support from a professional to help facilitate self-directed change to improve and maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle. This client is looking for a wellness coach. This client could be an individual who is managing a chronic illness, making a big life transition, has a new medical diagnosis, or is simply looking to improve overall health. There are many types of clients who are looking for wellness coaching. Wellness coaches may work in a variety of settings, including but not limited to: health clubs, community centers, hospitals and clinics, private practice, senior living facilities, and employee benefit companies.¹ Let’s look at two of the big buckets of responsibilities of a wellness coach.
Supporting Self-Directed Change
One of the most important skills for a wellness coach to have is the ability to carefully listen and process and organize information given by the client. The wellness coach then works collaboratively as a partner with the client to come up with a plan for sustainable change to improve overall health. It is crucial that this plan is self-directed by the client and supported by the wellness coach. Long-term change is most achievable when the client is making his or her own decisions; this will aid in self-discovery and empower clients to mobilize internal strengths and external resources for the adoption and maintenance of healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Utilizing Knowledge and Skills for Supporting a Client
Wellness coaches may come from a variety of backgrounds, including exercise science, health promotion, dietetics, nursing, psychology, or other health/fitness-related fields of study. The knowledge and skills gained in formal education will be important for a wellness coach to have as building blocks, but it is crucial that a wellness coach employs a client-centered communication style. The “soft skills” a wellness coach displays includes empathy, unconditional positive regard, decision making, recognizing emotions, and motivating others. NETA provides a complete list of skills needed in the Wellness Coach Study Guide.
Does wellness coaching sound like it’s for you? Learn more about becoming a wellness coach through NETA’s Wellness Coaching Specialty Certification.
¹University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing. So, What is a Health and Wellbeing Coach Anyway? Part 1. 2018. https://www.csh.umn.edu/news-events/blog/so-what-health-and-wellbeing-coach-anyway-part-i-why-would-i-want-one