What is Health Coaching?

What is health coaching, and why is it so important to the future of healthcare? Health coaches are experts on human behavior, motivation, and health. They use that knowledge to help their clients achieve their goals and improve their day-to-day lives. Health coaching has the power to turn the tide of the chronic disease epidemic—and change the world.

Why We Need Health Coaches

You know the chronic disease epidemic is reaching staggering heights, but did you know that the majority of those illnesses—over 85 percent, in fact—are driven by our behavior and environment, not our genes? That means we all have the power to prevent or reverse chronic illness just by adopting healthier habits.

As simple as that sounds, change is anything but easy. It takes drive, motivation, and strategy to change our habits—especially if we’ve been doing things a certain way for a long, long time. Most of all, it takes support—and that’s where health coaches excel.

Health coaches are change agents. They understand how habits form, they know how to reverse them, and they specialize in helping people overcome obstacles in pursuit of their goals. As part of a collaborative care team that includes Functional Medicine practitioners, nutritionists, and other allied health providers, health coaches support their clients as they make positive changes.

What Is Health Coaching?

Health coaches tap into their expert knowledge and professional training to:

  • Help people understand their motivation behind a goal
  • Empower people to act as the experts on their own bodies, minds, and situations
  • Help people see the challenges and blind spots that could be preventing change
  • Provide accountability and support
  • Help people navigate through their health issues

Health coaching is a partnership between the coach and client. Health coaches don’t use the “expert model” we typically see in healthcare—where the practitioner acts as an authority who has all of the answers and sets the agenda. Instead, they use a client-centered approach to empower their clients to take the lead, set their goals, and own their progress.

In this partnership, the health coach becomes the facilitator of change and the client takes on the role of the expert. This creates a powerful environment for clients to make significant, sustainable changes in their health.

How People Benefit from Working with a Health Coach

Working with a health coach carries a variety of benefits for clients. Some clients make progress they never thought was possible, while others see a shift in their mindset that helps them take an important next step. Still others may discover how to make lasting lifestyle changes after years of cycles of success and failure.

Coaching has been shown to offer positive effects for clients experiencing heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and other chronic illnesses. Health coaches often help clients understand their illness and implement a treatment plan their doctor has recommended.

What’s more, clients who learn how to build new habits can carry that knowledge throughout their lives. They may develop skills that translate to better relationships, healthier work–life balance, and other improvements in life satisfaction. As the proverb goes, you can give someone a fish and feed them for a day, or you can teach them to fish and feed them for a lifetime.