Perspectives, news, and announcements from the Center that will ignite your passion for wellbeing.

So, what is a health and wellbeing coach anyway? Part I: Why would I want one?

January 25, 2018

In our world today, we are inundated by information. We pay professionals for advice, direction, and interventions. Physicians, nurses, nutritionists, and health professionals of all kinds give us treatments, directions and sometimes threats. The same is true of our financial advisers, accountants, personal trainers, marriage and family therapists, lawyers, etc. Despite all of this expert advice, we find it difficult to make the changes in our lives that we say we want to make. If we do make changes, we struggle to sustain them. Information alone does not lead to shifts in perspectives or actions. That is where coaching comes in.

Health and Wellbeing coaches believe that we, the clients - not they - are the experts in our own life and health. They serve as skilled partners to help us make the shifts we choose, in both beliefs and behaviors, to improve our overall wellbeing and happiness. Coaches are experts in the change process. With them, we clarify our values, set our priorities, and create a vision for wellbeing. Then, at a supportive pace, clients create specific and achievable goals, optimize resources, address barriers, and make an accountability plan. When the time is right, coaches encourage our gratitude and celebration.

Whether we are in a life transition, have received a new medical diagnosis, are in a long time struggle with chronic illness, or just have a desire to better our lives and improve our wellbeing, a coach can be an impactful addition to our healthcare team. Health and wellbeing coaches can be found working in private practice, in employee benefits companies, in corporate employee health departments, conventional and integrative healthcare clinics, community health centers, senior living facilities, educational campuses, and recreation facilities. They often provide both individual and group coaching services, which may occur in person, or via the phone or computer. Health coaching services may sometimes be provided without extra charge at clinics or other health facilities, may be billed to health insurance, may be covered under an employee benefits package, may be reimbursable through pre-tax dollar healthcare savings accounts, or may be private pay.

There is a wide range of coaching training programs that range from short, intense workshops to several year long Master’s degree programs (including our programs at UMN!) and a subsequent range of knowledge and skills. Ask a potential coach how and where they trained and what amount of experience they have. At a minimum, it’s best to choose a coach who is nationally-board certified (NBC-HWC) ( and has some practice experience.

Most importantly, select someone with whom you feel comfortable and safe. Interview a coach before committing to work with them. Ask for a free short session to better understand how they work. Advocate for yourself. That’s what health coaching is all about—taking charge of your own health and wellbeing!

Note: This is part one of a two-part series. Read part two


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