How to become a health coach
Is health coaching for you?
Health coaching is an emerging trend that has shown to dramatically increase the success of individuals reaching their wellness goals.
Health Coaching is a growth-fostering relationship that promotes lasting change aligned with an individual’s values. It is not the job of the coach to tell the client what to do or how to do things. Instead, it is collaboration between the coach and the client to facilitate change. Examples of what a coach would ask are:
“What is going well in your wellness”?
“What would you like more of in your life”?
“What do you want for your wellness”?
“How would you life be different with this change”?
What is health coaching about?
This is a different approach than what most RDN’s are accustomed to. When you are a coach you must avoid wearing the expert hat. You educate when it is appropriate and even then you ask for permission to give the client that information. This type of coaching skill takes training to be effectually executed. There are several certifications available but it is important to do your research to find a reputable certification.
One thing to be mindful of is the International Consortium for Health & Wellness Coaching (ICHWC), formally known as the National Consortium for Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches (NCCHWC). After a 7 year process the ICHWC has created a National Certification for Health and Wellness coaches. If you are serious about a career in Health and Wellness Coaching then refer to these qualifying programs. Listed below are some of the most popular certification programs available.
Health coaching programs that are available
American Council on Exercise (ACE)
It is the only organization whose health coach certification is accredited by the National Council on Certifying Agencies (NCCA). This is the same organization that accredits certifications for athletic trainers, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, registered dietitians and many other health professions. ACE Health Coach Certification is approved by the ICHWC.
This certification is an independent study course. The exam is computer-based and is offered at over 500 testing locations.
Arizona State University (ASU)
ASU offers an on campus Bachelors of Science in Health Sciences in Healthy Lifestyles Coaching and is approved by the ICFWC. This platform includes an additional online option which I felt would be of interest for distance learners seeking opportunities at ASU. This program can be found here.
Students who graduate from this program will receive a Health and Wellness Coaching certificate and will be able to sit for the ICFWC certification examination.
Duke Integrative Medicine
Duke University is a highly respected university and the health coach professional training it offers is one of the more rigorous and formally structured programs. This certificate is awarded after completing the foundation course at Duke Integrated Medicine.
This program consists of 30 hours of classroom learning and it is combined with some distance learning. The majority of this program is done on campus. It also approved by the ICFWC.
National Society of Health Coaches (NSHC)
This certification is only open to licensed and credentialed healthcare professionals. The NSHC program is a highly respected program and they have a unique evidence-based health coaching approach. However, to date, it is not listed as one of the qualifying programs under the ICFWC.
The course is offered as a guided self-study program. You will receive a hard-copy binder, with skills competency and tests to conduct online.
The Wellcoaches Core Health Coach Training program takes 18 weeks to complete and culminates in an oral and written exam for the organization’s Health and Wellness Coach certification. This form of coaching is focused on an individual approach that concentrates on enhancing wellness and health. It is designed to develop a person’s ability to set goals and to maintain a lifestyle that they envision for their self.
This course is designed to teach individuals on how to properly coach clients. It consists of practice sessions with other participates. It is also required to take a practical exam with a master coach. Lastly, you will have to have 3 sessions coaching a practice patient. Not only does this certification prepare you for real world coaching it also a highly respected certification to carry in the Health and Wellness field. WellCoaches is approved by the ICHWC.
What does the future look like?
Regardless of what certification body you choose, Health and Wellness coaching is projected to grow 21% by 2022 (Nutrition Ed.org). This would be a good time to jump on this bandwagon!
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