Why You Need A Health Coach

Why You Need A Health Coach

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.

The ways in which health coach can help are numerous and includes the following: 

  • You have a trusted expert in your corner, who can help educate you on clinical nutrition and exercise, separate fact from fiction, discuss any questions you may have, and act as a sounding board. They take a detailed wellness history and will personalize their recommendations to your individual needs and goals. Overall, “health coaches typically address six key areas that affect wellness, with topics branching off into other categories. The six key areas are: smoking, stress, nutrition, sleep, activity and time management” (Cleveland Clinic, 2021)
  • A health coach has an objective viewpoint, much like a therapist, and is someone who can help you recognize automatic behaviors, as well as realize patterns and look for opportunities to change, incorporating them into a wellness plan that works for you. They will encourage reflection, break down big goals into reasonable milestones, and help manage expectations and emotions that may be barriers to success. They will do this by having you “engage in numerous self-assessment and self-monitoring activities, including weighing the pros and cons of changing, keeping online exercise and food diaries, completing stress and smoking logs, and assessing self-efficacy” (Gordon et al., 2016).
  • By asking open ended questions, health coaches support clients in creating and sustaining change for improved health as they “are trained in behavior change theories, motivational strategies, and health education and promotion theories” (NBHWC, 2023). They can help you identify your reasons why you want to change, which are powerful motivators for sticking to your goals.
  • Healthing coach can benefit everyone, including healthy people, those with chronic diseases, or those with preventable conditions, as “it can be used in health promotion, prevention, early intervention, treatment and management of chronic conditions such as in lifestyle medicine” (Conn & Curtain, 2019). According to a recent study titled “Clinical Effectiveness of Lifestyle Health Coaching,” researchers found “clinical effectiveness of this evidence-based approach in terms of modification of multiple risk factors in healthy persons as well as those with certain common chronic diseases” (Gordon et al., 2016). It is recognized by our health system as an evidenced-based treatment, and in 2019 the American Medical Association granted category III CPT codes for health coaching. This means that patients can seek a health coach as a valid medical treatment recognized by insurance companies.
  • Health coaches can help hold you accountable and keep you motivated by using an active learning process. By creating a safe space they encourage and support change: “health & wellness coaches support clients in activating internal strengths and external resources to make sustainable and healthy lifestyle behavior changes” (NBHWC. 2023).

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.

Conn, S., & Curtain, S. (2019). Health coaching as a lifestyle medicine process in primary care. Australian journal of general practice, 48(10), 677–680.

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.

NBHWC. (2023, May 26). What is a health coach?. NBHWC. 

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.

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Medically reviewed by Dr. Stephen Matta, DO, MBA CAQSM and Mary Anne Matta, MS, MA, LAC

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