With an overstretched healthcare system and chronic health conditions on the rise, the necessity for health coaches has never been greater. If you’re interested in becoming a health coach, read on for some expert tips…
By Michelle Sanchez – Naturopath, Nutritionist and Medical Herbalist
The demand for health coaches has grown exponentially, especially during the last year where people have become more conscious about their health in order to improve their physical and emotional wellbeing.
The industry is set to double its growth in the next few years, increasing work opportunities for health coaches. So, if you’ve been thinking about training to become a health coach, now is a perfect time.
The NHS in the UK is currently employing health coaches to assist patients with diet and lifestyle advice, and educate them on the importance of nutrition and exercise. This is part of a patient-focussed approach to help people overcome barriers on their health journey.
What does a health coach do?
Health coaches are trained to support their clients with stress management, weight loss, sleep routines, creating work/ life balance and advising on the best dietary and lifestyle approaches to address conditions such as diabetes, obesity and IBS.
To practice as a health coach, you need to undertake health coaching training with a reputable and accredited training organisation.
What skills should a health coach have?
Good listening skills
A health coach should be a good listener who actively listens and hears what their clients say. This involves listening without judgement or criticism, not interrupting, picking up on non-verbal cues and not letting your opinions cloud the situation.
Health coaches should be able to effectively connect and communicate with clients and explain things with ease. Considering your answers before voicing them, without jumping to conclusions, is also vital.
This is a fundamental skill that all health coaches need as it is a core component of health coaching. Health coaches help their clients to determine goals and then work together to find solutions to achieve these goals. A good health coach is able to think outside-the-box and suggest solutions their clients may not have thought of.
Energy and enthusiasm
These skills are essential to inspire and motivate clients to make changes. As a health coach, you become your client’s accountability partner who is there to cheerlead them on and support them through challenging times. Your passion needs to shine through.
A holistic thinker
Health coaches should be holistic thinkers who understand the connection between all areas of a client’s life (from their health to their career) and how these factors influence their behaviour. A holistic approach to health and wellbeing is about getting to the root cause of what is going on for your client and building from there.
An ability to ask the right questions
The ability to ask the right questions comes from good listening skills. When you ask the right questions, you get your clients thinking at a deeper level. This enables you to steer them in the right direction towards achieving their goals. Asking open-ended questions to elicit an answer that inspires change is also important.
A repertoire of health knowledge and resources
Health coaches should possess substantial knowledge and resources spanning diet, lifestyle, fitness and mindset. They should also know how to tailor these accordingly to their client’s needs. A thirst for learning new things to evolve your skills as a health coach is also a good trait to have.
5 tips on becoming a health coach
1. Find a health coach training provider
Your first step is to find a reputable health coach training provider that is internationally accredited. An accredited college is one that has been through a rigorous accreditation process where their health coach training programme has been analysed and audited to verify it meets the required standards.
Studying with an accredited organisation also gives you more credibility. This is because it shows potential clients and employers that you have undertaken comprehensive training from a highly-regarded organisation.
2. Understand the training programme’s scope of practice
Many people are not aware of a health coach’s scope of practice and are often confused by what a health coach can and can’t do. Be sure to enquire with the training provider about what their course will qualify you to do.
3. Ask if the health coach programme offers practical training
When you study to become a health coach, practical experience is invaluable. Putting all the theory into practice with real-life case studies gives you confidence. It also helps to prepare you for taking consultations when you graduate.
It also provides the opportunity to learn from your peers and lecturers through observation to see how they approach client consultations. Many health coaching courses don’t provide practical training.
4. Choose a comprehensive diploma course
Short basic courses do not provide adequate training or skills to become a proficient health coach. You should only consider longer diploma courses that provide thorough training and give you practical experience.
5. Make sure the course offers quality learning support
Does the course offer additional support and pastoral care for students? Are lecturers on-hand to answer questions and point you in the right direction? Will you have access to additional learning resources and be able to interact with other students, either in-class or via an interactive platform? These are important questions you need to ask before enrolling on a health coach course.
About the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM)
The Health Coach diploma offered by the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM) is a comprehensive training programme that can be completed in 6 to 12 months.
It is accredited with multiple health coaching associations internationally, including the UK HCA (UK Health Coaches Association) and it offers extensive practical training.
Students learn everything they need to know to become a successful health coach including business and marketing strategies and tools to kick-start their health coaching career.
If you have a passion for health and wellbeing, and a desire to help others improve their lives, you’ll make a great health coach.
Even if you haven’t studied for a while, or you think your studying days are “long gone”, don’t worry. There are students of all ages and from all walks of life studying at CNM.
The study schedule is fully flexible and you can study in class or online. You can also go at your own pace to make studying fit in with your lifestyle.
To learn more about CNM’s Health Coach course, visit thehealthcoach.com.