For many of us, the decision to become a health or wellness coach is a hugely important one. It’s often something we come to after struggling with our own health challenges, and usually stems from the desire to help others who are going through the same thing. It’s more than just a job—it’s an opportunity to take the soul lessons we’ve learned and the wisdom we’ve gained and use it to uplift those coming along after us.
So now that you’ve concluded coaching is the path that’s right for you, it’s vital that you choose a health coach training that will enable to you to do that. How do you choose a program that will meet your needs? Here are a few questions to ask when making your choice.
Does the training teach usable skills?
A solid health coach training will include both the factual knowledge you need and the tools necessary to apply it in the real world. Here at the Institute, for example, we work to make sure our program provides an understanding of the crucial concepts in nutrition and psychology, and also offers guidance in terms of how to work with clients and help them take meaningful steps forward.
Is it science based?
New approaches, philosophies, and attitudes toward coaching are invaluable—but they need to be based in fact. At the end of the day, coaching is all about helping clients make real changes—and that can only be done if you’re using methodologies that have been proven effective. Before you sign on to a health coach training, be sure what’s being taught has sound scientific footing. Not only will this give you more effective tools to help you support your clients, it will also give you more legitimacy as a practitioner.
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Will it help you understand your clients’ unique needs?
You could have the most exhaustive knowledge of nutrition in the history of coaching, and it wouldn’t mean a thing if you don’t know how to relate to your clients. It takes more than just factual expertise to make an effective coach—it takes the ability to empathize with your clients, meet them where they’re at, and adjust your approach to fit their backgrounds and experiences. A good health coach training will help you develop those skills.
For example, if a client is suffering from low energy, you might suggest healthy snacks throughout the day. But what if she doesn’t follow through? You’ll need to be able to compassionately talk with her to find out what’s going on. Maybe she’s grappling with challenging body image issues and isn’t comfortable adding the extra calories just yet. You should be flexible enough to switch course and approach your work together in a way that respects where she’s coming from.
Does it teach you how to work with people in a results-oriented way?
What’s great about health coaching—and any kind of coaching, really—is that it provides clients with a clear roadmap to help them get where they want to go, whereas some forms of counseling might focus on more extended inner work. Strong health coach training programs will teach you how to first help your clients do the necessary internal reflection and examine any underlying emotional issues that may be standing in the way of their goals, and then empower them to learn from those self-discoveries and start making concrete changes.
Is it delivered by professionals who really care?
This is maybe the most important factor to look for. Does the program have HEART? After all, we become coaches because we want to help people in profound ways—and to do that, we have to be able to connect with them on a human level. Learn as much as you can about the professionals who will be teaching you. Have they (or their loved ones) faced health challenges themselves? What’s their basic philosophy of coaching? Do they seem more interested in the people than the money?
Also, make sure the health coach training resonates deeply with YOU. Even if your teachers are genuinely invested in the work, if their approach doesn’t speak to you, it’s not the right fit. If you aren’t sure, listen to your intuition, it’s usually right.
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
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