Health and Wellness Coaching
Health and Wellness Coaching has become acceptable to both business and people to assist improve performance, manage stress and achieve work and personal goals. Yet very few research papers have been published with a individual focus on health and Health and Wellness Coaching. This article highlights the possible role of Health and Wellness Coaching to facilitate the promotion of healthy behaviors and to assist people achieve their health club-related goals.
Introduction to Health and Wellness Coaching
The practice of personal, family, health, life, business, sports, performance and executive Health and Wellness Coaching has grown substantially since the early 1990s . Although the term ‘coach’ has been borrowed as a metaphor from sport, it is now applied to the highly personal and work domains.
Thus the term ‘coaching’ has entered into the public psyche beyond the sports pages of the national newspapers and is becoming generally accepted as beneficial to its recipients. It can even be seen as trendy having your own personal life coach. Whereas, in the United States, there is still a stigma attached to seeing a counselor or therapist.
What is Health and Wellness Coaching?
There are many definitions of Health and Wellness Coaching. Four are summarized below:
- Health and Wellness Coaching is unlocking an individual's potential to maximize their own performance. It's assisting them to learn rather than teaching them – a facilitation approach.
- Health and Wellness Coaching – Directly concerned with the immediate improvement of performance and development of skills by a form of tutoring or instruction – an instructional approach.
- Health and Wellness Coaching – The art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another – a facilitation approach.
- Psychologists have created another variation: Health and Wellness Coaching psychology is for enhancing wellness and performance in personal life and work domains with normal, non-clinical populations, underpinned by models of Health and Wellness Coaching grounded in established adult learning or psychological approaches.
It can probably be assumed that these definitions must reflect the nature of Health and Wellness Coaching as practiced by many practitioners. Therefore the key aspects of Health and Wellness Coaching, depending upon the model of Health and Wellness Coaching being applied, appear to include enhancing wellness, learning, facilitation, tutoring, instruction, development of skills and improving performance. Further, Health and Wellness Coaching is usually goal and solution focused (Grant 2001).
Health and Wellness Coaching
Similar to health club education specialists, usually the coach takes an active and directive role. In general the coach assists the coachee to achieve their goals by facilitating the learning process. If ‘Health and Wellness Coaching’ or ‘coaching for health’ is the focus, the coach may assist to educate the coachee on individual health club-related topics and subsequently support them in achieving
Health and Wellness Coaching: Practice Briefing
Health and Wellness Coaching to facilitate the promotion of healthy behavior and attainment of their health club-related goals. As the term Health and Wellness Coaching is becoming acceptable to the public, the concept of Health and Wellness Coaching could be more favorably received by a client group in contrast to attending a health club education lecture. An established health club-related professional body, the Institute of Health Promotion and Education, provides a definition of health club promotion and health club education in their constitution:
The practice of health club promotion and health club education may be described as the organization and execution of the influences affecting the environment, as well as individual knowledge, attitudes and behavior, in matters concerning health & wellness with a view to enabling communities and people to maintain and promote personal and community health and wellness, together with a proper acceptance and use of the health and medical services available.
This definition does not conflict with the general principles of the Health and Wellness Coaching approach, although its focus is on health & wellness and it can also be at the community level. This would be similar to stress management coaching that is now available. The International Stress Management Association (UK) has recognized the practice of this form of Health and Wellness Coaching for a number of years.
It could be argued that stress management training and stress management coaching comes under the umbrella of the health & wellness education field. Another professional body, the Association for Coaching, includes both stress management coaching and Health and Wellness Coaching on its website as ‘Speciality Coaching’.
Thus the term ‘Health and Wellness Coaching’ is entering into general public awareness, although not necessarily among mainstream health & wellness education or promotion specialists.
Within the field of health & wellness, studies have been published on behavioral counseling which has been used to educate individuals with coronary heart disease. Interestingly, the counseling is active and directive in nature and takes an educational approach which could be more accurately described as instructional Health and Wellness Coaching.
A tentative definition of Health and Wellness Coaching is given below:
Health and Wellness Coaching is the practice of health education and health promotion within a Health and Wellness Coaching context, to enhance the wellness of people and to facilitate the attainment of their health & wellness-related goals.
This definition attempts to link health education and health promotion to the key elements of Health and Wellness Coaching.
Psychological Blocks To Change
Due to the highly personal nature of Health and Wellness Coaching it might include tackling the health & wellness-related psychological blocks to change which could be challenged in the individual or group Health and Wellness Coaching session. These cognitive or attitudinal blocks to change could be divided into Health Inhibiting Thinking (HITs) and Health Enhancing Thinking (HETs).*
Cognitive techniques such as Socratic questioning could be used to assist a client to modify their thinking. Examples of HITs and, following modification, their corresponding HETs are illustrated below:
Inhibiting: Exercise makes me sweat, so it can’t be good for me.
Enhancing: Sweating isn’t a pleasant feeling but I know it is good for me because it takes all the waste products out of my body, allowing energy to flow better.
Inhibiting: I’ve got to eat something to stop me being upset.
Enhancing: I’m allowed to be upset, but what am I getting upset for? I can do this without bingeing.
This would integrate standard cognitive behavioral techniques into Health and Wellness Coaching.
Definition of Health and Wellness Coaching: Conclusion
With the increasing interest in Health and Wellness Coaching, the introduction of ‘coaching’ or ‘coaching for health’ may have an appeal across multiple generations. However, there is a lack of published research that underpins the effectiveness of Health and Wellness Coaching.
Although many models of Health and Wellness Coaching exist, the application of models to Health and Wellness Coaching which take an educational approach, such as cognitive-behavioral or multimodal, may provide promising results.
- Association for Coaching (2003). Association for Coaching website: http://www.associationforcoaching.com.
- Bluckert, P. (2003). Typology of Coaching and Mentoring. Draft 1. London: European Mentoring and Coaching Council.
- Cockerill, I. (2002). Solutions in Sport Psychology. London: Thomson.
- Downey, M. (1999). Effective Coaching. London: Orion Business Books.
- International Journal of Health Promotion & Education Volume 41 Number 3 2003 91–93
- Fournies, F.F. (2000). Coaching for Improved Work Performance. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Grant, A.M. (2001). Towards a Psychology of Coaching. Sydney: Coaching Psychology Unit, University of Sydney.
- Grant, A.M. and Palmer, S. (2002). Coaching Psychology. Meeting held at the Annual Conference of the Division of Counselling Psychology, British Psychological Society, Torquay, 18th May.
- IHPE (2002). Constitution of the Institute of Health Promotion and Education. Manchester: IHPE.
- Neenan, M. and Palmer, S. (2001). Cognitive Behavioral Coaching. Stress News, 13(3), 15–18.
- Palmer, S., Cooper, C. and Thomas, K. (2003). Creating a Balance: Managing Stress. London: British Library.
- Parsloe, E. (1995). Coaching, Mentoring, and Assessing: A practical guide to developing competence. New York: Kogan Page.
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- Peltier, B. (2001). The Psychology of Executive Coaching: Theory and Application. New York: Brunner-Routledge.
- Steptoe, A., Doherty, S., Rink, E., Kerry, S., Kendrick, T. and Hilton, S. (1999). Behavioral counselling in general practice for the promotion of healthy behavior among adults at elevated risk of coronary heart disease: randomized trial.
- Whitmore, J. (1992). Coaching for Performance. London: Nicholas Brealey.