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What does a health coach do for you?

Amanda Richardson / Apr 13, 2016

You’ve heard of health coaches but couldn’t for the life of you identify what they actually do. If this sounds like you - you’re not alone. Coaching is an emerging field with distinct specialties; and health coaching in particular garners a lot of confusion. Because unlike what you may expect, it’s not all about diet and exercise.


According to the National Consortium for Credentialing Health & Wellness Coaches, health coaches “partner with clients seeking self-directed, lasting changes, aligned with their values, which promote health and wellness and, thereby, enhance well-being.”

In other words, we’re here to help you be the best you can be.

Sure, we address your physical health, but also so much more. We explore relationships, career, community, finances, and emotional health. It’s an integrative approach, based on the belief that everything in our lives is interconnected. You improve one area, and it creates a beautiful ripple effect through the rest.

Health coaching is preventive and can be a tool to help manage chronic conditions, but it’s also a process to empower, motivate, and breed self-assurance. This may be why Duke University calls it the “missing link” in healthcare, and venture capitalists are investing big-time (as in $millions) in health coaching apps and programs. Even corporations are beginning to wise up to the benefits of coaching for their bottom line.

Intrigued? Here are 5 surprising ways a health coach can benefit you – and it’s not all about fitting into those jeans you wore in college (although coaches can help with that too).

Help you figure out what you want

The sad truth is that many of us have no idea what we want out of life. We’re so overwhelmed by our ever-growing task list and stuck in the tracks of “reality” that we’ve lost track of those things we used to have called dreams. We’ve all heard about people waking up at 50 or even 60 years of age and wondering how the hell this became their life.

Simply put, we’re disconnected.

Coaches help you reconnect with who you are, what you want to accomplish, and where you want to be 1, 5 or even 10 years down the line. Once we have this destination - specific and precisely mapped out - we can figure out how to make small steps to get you closer to that place of your ultimate self.

Challenge you to change your perspective

Sometimes the most valuable outcome of our work is to change perspective. Ask anyone how an event or activity went and they are likely to hone in on the negative – everything that went wrong, how they didn’t perform as well as they wanted to, who interfered with their work, etc. It’s a natural inclination but totally counter-productive. Coaches help reframe experiences so that you identify with the positive - what went right and how your strengths, abilities, and resources helped promote a favorable action or outcome. This flip in perspective can improve self-confidence, jumpstart motivation, and pave the way for more successful goal-setting and action.

Help you identify and address what is holding you back

We are often our own worst enemy. We want change – at least we think we do – but unwittingly sabotage our efforts. Coaches invite introspection and exploration of what you may fear about success, what doubts are keeping you on the sidelines of your own game.

Do you fear that once you reach your career goals, you may not have time for your family? Are you scared that if you lose weight, you’ll alienate your friends or family who are also struggling with weight? If you get that promotion at work, are you nervous you’ll be “found out” as a fraud?

Too many of us don’t change because - at some level - we’re scared of it. Coaches can help you identify and confront your fears. In some cases, it may mean altering goals to something else so that you can more effortlessly move towards success.

Give you permission to fully express yourself

One of the greatest gifts you can give another person is your full attention. In this era of ever-present technology, it is so easy to get distracted. Even with our spouses and children, it can be hard to shut everything down and listen.

The job of a coach is to give space and allow you the time needed to pause, think through questions, and fully express your thoughts, experiences, and emotions. This is a rare occurrence - after all, how often are you engaged in a conversation that is squarely focused on you, with no interruptions or conversation redirects (“hey, I feel that way too!)? Not often enough, probably. Coaches are here to enhance your self-knowledge, foster growth and identify small sensible steps to get you closer to your ideal self– all of which starts with the simple act of listening.

Hold you accountable

Coaching is a partnership, and clients aren’t just a passive voice in the process. They must be honest, accountable to their goals, and open to trying new strategies to improve their health and well-being. Coaches help by providing accountability – asking that clients give a full account of how they fared in their goals, what went well, what didn’t, and what supported either outcome. As well, clients are asked to become accountable to their goals, for example by posting reminders or seeking out family members or friends to help them keep on track. Without accountability, it’s so easy to let goals slide, particularly in the beginning when so many obstacles seem in the way. The job of a coach is to smooth the transition from unhealthy and "stuck" to healthy, productive, and fulfilled. Providing accountability is a necessary step in making this happen.