Wellness coaching, health coaching, life coaching, all the coaching! What are the differences and how can these services even help me? Let’s break down some of these terms…
Wellness vs Health vs Life Coaching
While people may prefer one title over the other, wellness and health coaching can actually be used synonymously. (I’ll be using “wellness coaching” from here on out to keep it simple). Wellness coaching focuses on physical and mental health, while life coaching focuses on things like relationships, careers, and personal growth.
The distinction is subtle since there are so many ways these two overlap. For example, if you are extremely busy and dissatisfied with your job (life coach focus), this is going to affect your physical and mental health (wellness coach focus). On the flipside, if you aren’t taking care of yourself through movement and healthy food (wellness coach focus), this could certainly affect your relationships (life coach focus).
Regardless of the subtle differences, they are all intended to help you reach your life goals and improve your quality of life. Further, many coaches have other areas of expertise that might come forward in their coaching style. For example, I’m also a movement coach (personal trainer), and so I frequently combine physical activity with wellness coaching for my clients.
Wellness coach certifications
Wellness coaching is a profession that was born in the 1990s, and currently is not standardized with a license. This means that anyone can call themselves a coach without credentials. Professional wellness coaches are those with certifications such as the ACE Heath Coach (this is a commission-based link because I really enjoyed taking this program), Duke Integrative Health Coach and Certified Health and Wellness Coach from Wellcoaches. ACE Health Coach is currently the only one nationally accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. IDEA (a fitness education organization) lists some other certification programs here. If you are looking for a coach, be sure to ask what certification they have. I would avoid those without a certification or those who are just trying to sell you supplements.
Why would I need a wellness coach?
With the average visit with your physician lasting around 15 minutes, wellness coaches help bridge the gap through preventative health care. They use theory-based practices in order to ensure you achieve positive outcomes. You may benefit from talking with a wellness coach if you feel unmotivated, unhappy, or unhealthy. Talking with a coach can help you identify barriers and create solutions to meet your goals. Within wellness coaching, your goals may be related to fitness, nutrition, sleep, time management and stress management.
Overall, wellness coaches help you create positive change. Further, behavioral scientists have indicated that coaching helps individuals improve their quality of life. This is through a collaborative relationship, tailored goal-setting, accountability measures and simply investing the time in your personal growth.
Scope of practice
It’s also important to make sure wellness coaches are remaining within their scope of practice and refer out when necessary. This can get a little tricky. Often times, there could be something going on in your life that is holding you back from your wellness goals. This could be relationship issues, low self-worth, or mental health-related diagnoses (like depression or eating disorders). This is where a wellness coach is not qualified to help and will refer out to a mental health professional. This could be a therapist, counselor or psychologist (unless the wellness coach is also be a mental health professional, which is where I’m headed in 2019!).
Further, if you need help with nutrition beyond basic suggestions, wellness coaches can provide referrals to registered dietitians. Dietitians can give you more detailed advice and can also offer behavioral modifications strategies directly related to food.
Wellness coaching can be a really great tool for people to gain control over their motivation, health, and happiness. The most successful clients are those that are ready to make a change, but just need some guidance. Wellness coaches provide strategies, tools, and accountability, but can’t force a client to do the work. It’s the collaborative effort that leads to positive change.
My philosophy is that wellness coaching is best paired with movement and mindfulness, which is why I identify as a “Wellness and Movement Coach”. Movement stimulates the brain and gets us feeling happier and more energetic, and mindfulness helps us make more thoughtful decisions with our life. This is how change happens.
Happy moving and mindfulness!