What is “Coaching?”

When I tell people that I’m a health coach, they look at me as if I just told them I train unicorns for a living. Slight fascination, but more of a blank stare with a mix of skepticism.

“So… What exactly do you do? Do you tell people what they can and can’t eat and that they have to go to the gym?

The confusion makes sense since the term “health coach” sounds a bit medical and also brings visions of a high school gym teacher saying it’s time to take a physical fitness test.

To clarify:

A doctor tells you that you should or need to stop smoking. Then sends you on your way. Next time you see said doctor, he asks, “Have you quit smoking?”

A health coach works with you and is your support system during the process of quitting smoking until you reach your goal. We do this by asking what you think you can do to achieve success, how you feel about it, what actions you are taking, etc. If you have no idea where to start, the coach works with you to find small steps that you can take to get going and stay motivated. If you slip up and metaphorically fall, it’s alright. Your coach won’t judge you and will continue to be there for you to help as you get back up and continue toward your goal.

I mentioned that there are a lot of thoughts and feelings associated with the coach/client relationship. It sounds like therapy, right?

There are many types of therapists and many types of coaches and, although there are similarities between them, there are two major differences.

In a nutshell, a therapist works with you to resolve current issues, starting from your past experiences and how they’ve lead to where you are now. A therapist is also trained to deal with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and more.

In contrast, a coach’s primary purpose is to work with you to achieve goals that you set for yourself, starting from where you are now. We are more forward-focused and help you figure out what actions you can take to achieve future success. Although we are trained to recognize certain mental health issues, coaches do not medically treat our clients. We would, instead, refer that person to a therapist.

A health coach is a specific niche in coaching. As the name states, we work with people in achieving health and wellness related goals. This could include things like quitting smoking, like in the example above, losing weight, reducing stress, or being happier.

There are as many goals as people on the planet, if not more. You hire a coach to help you find and take the necessary action steps toward whatever end it is you want to achieve. And, although training unicorns sounds like fun, that career is going to have to wait. But, once I find one, you can bet I’ll find a way to include it in my coaching programs.

***If you think you could benefit from the help of a health coach or know someone who might, please contact me and we explore the possibilities. And, as always, please feel free to like us on Facebook!