Health coaching has emerged over the past twenty years or so as a new profession in the world of medicine. Since most people have their own physicians and are not familiar with what health coaches do, you might wonder why anyone would want to hire one. Listed below are six ways that health coaches generally differ from physicians.
1) They have time to listen. Most health coaches offer options to clients to meet with them at least twice a month for 45 minutes to an hour. A good part of each session is spent listening to a client’s health story, goals and roadblocks. When was the last time someone listened to you share your health struggles without interrupting or judging you—including your physician?
2) They are interested in helping you change. Health coaches understand that many people know what is right to do when it comes to their health but feel powerless to do it. Health coaches are very aware that lifestyle change is not easy and is usually a process, and their desire is to support you as you walk the path of change.
3) They are not medication-focused. Health coaches are health practitioners that do not (and cannot—unless they also hold an appropriate medical license) prescribe medication. Most health coaches believe that the body can heal a great deal of things on its own if given the right support, and some people seek out health coaches in order to decrease the number of medications they take. (I am certified as a health coach by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.)
4) They can work remotely. Due to the convenience and connection that phones and the internet provide, you can work with a health coach in any part of the world. And since most coaches offer some kind of initial free consultation, you have the opportunity to interview multiple coaches to find one you “click” with.
5) They look for underlying causes and connections. Health coaches are very interested in getting to the root causes of their clients' issues so that symptoms can be alleviated permanently. Coaches believe that body systems and symptoms are often connected and related to one another, and are also aware that thinking patterns and emotions play a role in our health. Could your arthritis be related to the health of your gut? Is your fear of losing your job causing that pain in your stomach? Are you eating every evening out of boredom? These kinds of relationships and links are why health coaches ask a lot of questions and prefer to get the big picture of what’s going on in different areas of your life.
6) They want to work themselves out of a job. OK, not with everybody—just with you. :) The thing that most brings joy to the heart of a health coach is when clients takes ownership for their health and move forward with confidence into a new lifestyle that better serves them. Health coaches are really all about empowering their clients to not need them.
For a little more about the different hats I wear as a health coach and why people hire health coaches, see my page on "What is a Health Coach?"