How are Health Coaches Trained and Certified? Is Hiring a Health Coach Right for You?

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Working with a health coach can be a transformative experience, as you expand your understanding of your body’s needs and lifestyle preferences. You’ll get to know yourself better through the interactions with your health coach and you’ll develop a feeling of empowerment as you create positive changes with your health.

But what is a health coach exactly, how are they trained, and how should you find the right one for you? Let’s dive into these questions and explore the many ways in which you can create more well-being by working with a coach.

How are Health Coaches Trained and Certified?

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If you’re considering working with a health coach, you might like to better understand their training and background. This is helpful for understanding what they do, how they can help you, and how to find one that’s a good fit for you.

Health coaches are trained to work with individuals who are seeking to improve their health. They can help with overall health improvement or they can work with you on a specific health struggle you’d like to resolve.

Health coaches aren’t medical professionals and they don’t treat diseases or prescribe protocols. Instead, they work with clients to get to the root of their desires and help them explore ways to feel better that work well for them.

Coaching is a client-centered process that’s collaborative, conversational, and customized to your specific needs and goals.

The training to become a health coach is typically 6 to 24 months, depending on the intensity and goals of the program. Coaching students can attend online programs or in-person trainings from a variety of types of schools, from traditional universities to specialized schools wholly focused on health coaching.

Once they have finished their schooling, they have to meet certain qualifications in order to become certified. Typically these qualifications require a certain number of hours engaging in practicing coaching skills with practice clients, where students demonstrate their learning and skills.

A good school will hold itself to high standards and achieving a certification means that a health coach has undergone rigorous training and fulfilled all the requirements of the school.

Good schools will also be recognized and endorsed by accreditation organizations based on the rigor of their programs.

If you are interested in working with a health or wellness coach, it is important to know if the training program they went through is credible and accredited. You should be able to rest easy and trust that your coach has the proper training.

The IAWP is one of the most highly accredited wellness coach programs available to prospective coaches today.

We are accredited by both the International Coach Federation and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, the highest standards in coaching and holistic health and wellness accreditation respectively.

We are also accredited and recognized internationally by the Health Coach Alliance in Canada, the UK Health Coaches Association, and the Canadian Association for Integrative Nutrition.

If you’d like a more in-depth understanding of what goes into a health coach training, we’ve created a comprehensive guide that you can read here.

Something to consider as you’re deciding which path is for you, is the difference between being a Health Coach and a Holistic Wellness Coach.

The training paths for both are quite similar, however, Holistic Wellness Coaches focus on how all areas of a person’s life affects their health and well-being, not just aspects like fitness and nutrition.

If a holistic approach is something you feel more passionate about, you might find that training path more aligned with your goals.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Health Coach?

Typically, health coaching programs take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to complete. This all depends on the way the school is set up, whether the training is available online or in person, and whether the program runs as part-time, full-time, or self-paced.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Health Coach?

Becoming a health coach is an investment in a new career, so program costs reflect that. However, considering the exponential growth of the health coaching field and proven strategies for career success, the investment is very reasonable when compared to other careers.

Health coaching programs typically cost $3,000 to $6,000 and sometimes more. The time devoted and money invested means that most health coaches are serious about their work and are passionate about helping others achieve better health and wellness.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Health Coach?

The cost to hire a health coach varies by region, specialty, and the way coaches structure their services.

Usually, health coaches work by an hourly rate of $50 to $200. Newer coaches usually charge less than more experienced coaches. Those with experience, specialties, and additional certifications and/or licenses usually charge on the higher end of the spectrum.

Many coaches offer package rates that include a specific program or offering that matches your ongoing needs, as well.

How Can You Find the Right Coach for You?

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Finding the right coach is crucial, as you want to find someone who reflects your own personal goals, values, and life vision.

To have a good coaching relationship, it’s also great if you’re a personality match and you communicate well with each other. It’s important to be understood and to also understand how your coach is trying to help!

You can start with word-of-mouth recommendations. Reach out to your friends, family, or colleagues to see if they’ve worked with someone they loved. Check with your local wellness center, natural foods stores, or other health and wellness spaces to see if they have recommendations.

You can also check with your insurance company to see if they have some recommended coaches that might be covered by your insurance. You may also want to check that your chosen health coach has an insurance plan covering their business.

You can also hop online for quality recommendations in specialized coaching directories, such as the one offered by IAWP for their Holistic Wellness Coaches.

If you’re comfortable with the idea of working with a coach over the phone or via videoconferencing, you can also do searches online for coaches who specialize in something specific and who match your interests and goals exactly. Coaching has been shown to work just as effectively at a distance, so don’t hesitate to try it if it interests you!

Is There Evidence that Health Coaching Works?

Though health coaching is a relatively new field, medical researchers have started to take note of how effective they are at reducing healthcare costs and helping people live healthier lives.

Doctors and hospitals are starting to recommend and hire them. Even health insurance companies are beginning to include health coaching in their covered care options.

Studies show that health coaching helps to reduce negative health effects, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. It increases more positive effects, such as greater cardiovascular fitness and weight loss maintenance for better health.

One study showed that health coaching helped patients with COPD better cope with their illness, improved their quality of life, and reduced rates of hospital admissions for acute issues.

Anecdotally, health coaches often receive rave reviews due to their unique style of coaching based on motivational interviewing. This is a method that public health and medical professionals are beginning to use in order to inspire individuals to change.

As researchers dive into why motivational interviewing works so well, more evidence will emerge to support the health coaching process and practice.

Thoughts from an IAWP Graduate

“There are a lot of health coaches out there and it’s key to find one with a proper training to guide you through your challenges. A trained coach will know holistic and health practices, but, more importantly, they will be trained in coaching you and know how to be a guide to help you create lasting changes. It’s important to research their training to better understand their coaching background. To find one that is right for you, read their story, see if it is similar to yours and the support you need, and who they work with. Testimonials help too!”

Molly Sommerhalder, Certified Holistic Wellness Coach and Certified Yoga Teacher at Swan in the Lotus Yoga and Wellness, LLC

Conclusion: Is Health Coaching Right for You? Questions to Ask Yourself

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After understanding the health coaching field and the possibilities for how you could work with a health coach, you can start to determine whether it’s a good fit for you or not. It can be useful to ask yourself a few questions to help figure out your goals and reasons for being interested in working with a health coach.

A few useful questions might be:

  • What health struggles are you interested in receiving support to transform?
  • Are these issues something that might fit within the health coaching relationship or are they a better fit for a medical professional?
  • Do you have a very specific health issue that you want some support working through?
  • Or do you have more of a holistic interest in getting your whole life back on track?
  • Do you see your health as reflective of a bigger need for more wellness in your life?

Health coaching is great for individuals who are working on a very specific goal or who just want to focus on their physical health.

If you’re more interested in a holistic wellness approach, the health coaching model might be a bit too limited for your goals. You might, instead, benefit from working with a wellness coach.

A wellness coach is someone who will support all areas of your life and see them as interconnected in order to create lasting change.

Whatever road you decide to go, becoming healthier and more vibrant is a great way to build more well-being into your life experiences. It sets a great example for your family, friends, and colleagues, and can have a significant impact on your quality of life.

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Suzanne Monroe Founder of IAWP

About the Author

Suzanne Monroe

Suzanne Monroe is the author of The Holistic Cookbook & Lifestyle Guide: 12 Weeks to a Healthier, Happier You, the co-author of 101 Ways to Improve Your Health, and is a health and business expert appearing regularly in the media. Suzanne was inspired to create the IAWP Wellness Coach Training & Certification Program in collaboration with other leading health experts in order to inspire people to create meaningful careers and spread the message of wellness.