If you were serious about getting into shape, you would probably hire a personal trainer. If you wanted to learn how to play an instrument, you’d find a music teacher. If you are looking to optimize your health and wellbeing, a health coach is a great answer! Traditionally, health has been understood through ethnomedicine via indigenous healers and shamans. Our ancestors worked with medicine men and women who saw patients in their community and cared for their body, mind and spirit with herbal and natural medicines as well as rituals and ceremonies. Healthcare was a socio-cultural system that was about support and caring, and was commonly tied to religious beliefs. As we moved into our modern, industrial era, medicine and health care providers became separate and clinical. We only see them about once a year (unless we are sick) and the body has been divided from the mind and spirit. The unity of our wellness paradigm has been fractured, and nowadays a health coach can play a crucial role in helping us heal the disjointed parts of ourselves.
In summary, a health coach makes a great partner in your wellness journey, and is someone who can support you in your goals. It is important that you choose a health coach who participated in a program that is certified by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC. 2023), which is considered the gold standard for this speciality. Graduates of these programs not only take credentialing exams, but must also complete 36 hours of continuing education related to health and wellness coaching every 3 years. They are experts in not only health, but also behavioral change. A health coach can help you create new habits that result in sustainable changes for improved health and wellness for life.
Cleveland Clinic. (2021, November 17). Health coaches: What they do – and how they can help you. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-a-health-coach/
Conn, S., & Curtain, S. (2019). Health coaching as a lifestyle medicine process in primary care. Australian journal of general practice, 48(10), 677–680. https://doi.org/10.31128/AJGP-07-19-4984
Gordon, N. F., Salmon, R. D., Wright, B. S., Faircloth, G. C., Reid, K. S., & Gordon, T. L. (2016). Clinical Effectiveness of Lifestyle Health Coaching: Case Study of an Evidence-Based Program. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 11(2), 153–166. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827615592351
NBHWC. (2023, May 26). What is a health coach?. NBHWC. https://nbhwc.org/what-is-a-health-coach/
About the author: Mary Genevieve Carty, MS, MHEd holds Masters degrees in Complementary and Integrative Health as well as Higher Education and is currently a doctoral student in Health Science at George Washington University's College of Medicine and Health Science. She is passionate about holistic health and wellness, and has additional training in teaching, Reiki, and Tapping/ Emotional Freedom Technique. Her research interests include resiliency, psychoneuroimmunology, neuroplastic pain, placebo/ nocebo effect, and bioenergy therapies. The views she expresses are her own, and do not reflect any affiliation.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Stephen Matta, DO, MBA CAQSM and Mary Anne Matta, MS, MA, LAC
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