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So, what is a health and wellbeing coach anyway? Part II: Why might I want to become one? And how?

January 29, 2018
Person participating in a health coaching session

“My passion as always been about health, but I didn’t know how to make that into a career.”

“I thought about going into medicine, but I didn’t like the emphasis on illness and prescription medications.”

“Friends and neighbors often talk to me about their health or fitness issues, and I’d like to do that professionally.”

“I love hearing people’s stories, and helping them make changes.”

“When I had my health crisis, I had to figure out how to do everything by myself—I wish I had had a coach that understood a holistic approach to help me get through my healing process.”

These are the kinds of statements I hear recurrently from my graduate students, and potential students, all of the time. Individuals pursue a career in coaching for many reasons, but there are some common themes. Health Coaches are committed to their own growth and wellbeing, and want to support others with that commitment. Coaches enjoy being present with people—they like hearing their stories, challenges, journeys, and visions. Integrative health coaches believe in the optimal utilization of the widest array of health approaches, and like to help others appreciate new possibilities for self-care or treatment approaches. Coaches don’t need, or want, to be the expert in an encounter. They believe in the wisdom and self-knowing of each client. Because in coaching, the client is the expert in their own life and health, while the coach is there to listen, gently evoke, reflect, witness, and partner—not to direct, instruct, or coerce. A coach follows the desires and needs of the client—not those of the doctor, the insurance company, the employer, or other invested parties. Health coaches believe that by helping individuals find empowerment to take charge of their own health, that the medical system and the level of overall health of Americans can and will improve.

Health and Wellbeing coaches work with all kinds of individuals, in many different settings. Clients may have had a new diagnosis of an illness, experienced a recent trauma, be living with a chronic disease, be in a place of transition or upheaval in their life, or just be desirous of improving their overall health, energy, or wellbeing from a prevention orientation. Coaches may be located anywhere and work virtually via phone or web. They may be found in-person at fitness centers, community health clinics, medical facilities, senior living communities, educational institutions, corporate employee health centers, and other locations.

Training programs vary from 40 to 800 hours. Graduates from programs who are approved by the International Consortium of Health and Wellness Coaching are eligible to sit the exam for national board certification (NBC-HWC.) Some programs are targeted to health professionals only, while others accept students from diverse backgrounds.

At the University of Minnesota Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing, we have a 20-credit post-baccalaureate graduate certificate for health professionals, and a 38-credit Masters of Arts degree in Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coaching for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in various fields, including health care. For more information, find our program page here. We accept applications by March 15 for fall admission. 

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

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Mandala cover from fall 2017. The cover features a collage of images of Earl Bakken, and the University of Minnesota's "M"

Mandala is a biannual magazine produced by Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing. It captures the core aspects of the Center: reflection, transformation, spirituality, creation, and the ongoing journey that continues to shape what we are to become.

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The Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing blog covers a range of integrative health and wellbeing topics. For more information about our blog, contact us at csh@umn.edu