Last updated on November 18th, 2023.
Health Coaching is not something many people know about. They are used to routine doctor’s office visits that give them a few minutes of face-time with a doctor. People who have a tough time with change could have questions before going in. What is health coaching, and how does it work?
Health Coaching goes beyond the diagnosis and recovery stages to improve health moving forward. It is a partnership between a health professional and the patient to educate and create strategies to deal with disease and other health problems.
Talking about health coaching could be hard for some patients as they could be uncomfortable discussing medical problems with someone other than a doctor or nurse. Don’t sweat it! Just read on and learn everything you need to know about health coaching.
What is the Main Focus of Health Coaching?
The main focus of health coaching is to help patients create a plan for wellness that impacts all parts of their lives. In addition, coaches work with the patients to work on various improvement schemes to influence their diagnosed issues and work in prevention.
What is the Health Coaching Process?
A health coach or wellness coach is usually the appointment you attend after meeting with a doctor. If you have been hit with a life-changing diagnosis, like diabetes, having someone to help explain the changes you have to make could be critical to your health.
The process of visiting with a health coach is:
- Doctors Office – Typically, they will issue a referral to see their on-staff health coach after you visit the physician. A referral from the doctor is given if you have a diagnosis that requires you to get long-term care or another treatment.
- Coach Time – The doctor will give the coach a heads up about the situation, send over files, and allow them time to gather materials before sending in the patient. This coaching time is needed to formulate a plan for the specific patient.
- Meeting Time – When you meet with your health coach, one of the main things you will notice is the change in atmosphere. Health coaches have a laid-back approach meant to destress the patient and make them feel they are meeting with a friend who knows more about health care than a health coach.
- Follow Up – One of the most important things you will get from the coach is their contact information. The follow-ups they have, keeping in touch by email, etc., will reinforce the plan made in the meeting and improve the patient’s health.
The process is just like seeing any other specialist, only a bit less formal. The doctor will hire an approachable coach who can explain difficult situations and diagnoses. Trust your doctor, and the health coach will be just what you need to prolong your health and keep your illnesses at bay. Even getting a life coach certification online could help you understand health better and promote overall wellness to others.
The Nine Principles of Health Coaching
Health coaches are set to follow some guidelines that allow them to help their patients. These guidelines come from different sources, but all focus on improving the patient through communication and problem-solving.
1. Informing the Patient is a Critical Part of Health Coaching
Giving your patients the information they need about their illness or disease is the central vine that connects a health coach and a patient. They will need these info updates to plan their treatments and communicate any questions to the coach.
A few ways a patient can be informed by their health coach are:
- Phone Calls – Some patients will need to have conversations over the phone. When someone is diagnosed with a disease, it can be jarring. Making phone calls the next day or having follow-up calls scheduled will show the coach is proactive about the patient and cares for their wellbeing.
- Email – Another great way to provide info to your clients is by using email. Some people prefer this electronic mailing to meeting face to face because they are more comfortable at home. Email allows them to be themselves without having anxiety.
- Video Chat – Video meetings are one of the new standards going forward. It allows the coach and the patient to message from their home or offices instead of going into the clinic for a meeting. Video chats are the next best thing to an in-office visit and can be extremely helpful for patients.
Keeping the patient informed about any questions or concerns is critical for a health coach. Keeping information flowing about new techniques and strategies to fight disease will form a strong bond between coach and patient. Allowing them to recover from illness and work towards total wellness.
2. Communication Should be Constant and Friendly
Closely tied with information is communication. If you are only sending out lessons and not listening to your patient, there is no communication—only information. You must listen and consider your patient’s problems and learn to communicate with them and not just send them a to-do list or busy work.
3. A Good Coach Reinforces Positive Habits
The best thing a health coach does is reinforce the positive habits of their clients. When they overcome a hurdle in their recovery isn’t just the only time that health coaches should give praise. Instead, make a hearty effort to reinforce positive habits formed during the recovery.
The best ways to reinforce positive habits are:
- Journal – One of the most used ways for patients to see their positive habits is by journaling them. Once they see the progress and the number of times they have allowed a positive action to be part of their day, it will create positive feelings towards the action. Which will increases the consistency of the act.
- Rewards – Gamification takes a simple task and makes a game out of it. You can do the same thing with a person’s recovery schedule. By awarding a set number of points for completing an exercise, you increase the positive attitude about the action. Recovery is about a positive attitude. So rewarding it is a great idea.
Health coaches have to get a firm grasp on what motivates their clients and learn how to reinforce their positive habits; as soon as the patient begins to show progress by completing actions of meeting health standards, they should be rewarded or reminded to make an entry in their journal.
4. Becoming Aware of the Consequences of Your Actions is Huge for Coaches
Teaching a patient to become aware of their stepbacks or mistakes during treatment is essential for all health coaches. For example, guiding clients to understand what makes them have poor food choices or neglect to take their medication is a watershed moment. Once they know that doing or not doing the action will help them recover, they will make improvements.
5. Encourages Patients for Regular Visits
A health coach should attempt to have regular visits with the patient. Meeting regularly increases familiarity, and seeing the client gives a better idea of how they are progressing instead of reading texts or emails about them.
Some typical ways that health coaches encourage regular visits from patients are:
- Schedule – Sometimes, coaches will schedule extra visits with a patient. When they think that recovery is going well, or if it isn’t, they will make a point to add some slots to their schedule. These extra schedulings can do wonders for the patient and the coach.
- Out of Office – During the pandemic, health coaches began to see patients outside the office. These out-of-office visits can be something adventurous or a meeting for coffee.
- Wellness Checks – Health coaches encourage visits by doing a wellness check of their home. Going into the home will get a better idea of strategies to help them with their ailments.
Health coaches thrive on unconventional ways to see their patients. This odd connection can be formed in different ways. Relationships are created by spending time together. Health coaches looking to bridge the gap should spend more time with their patients.
6. A Coaches Office is a Safe Area for Patients
An office of a health coach should be where the patients feel safe. It should be inside the doctor’s office and be easily accessible like the front desk. It needs to be accessible because some patients could have problems that don’t require scheduling to see the doctor.
A few more reasons that a health coach’s office should be a safe space are:
- Partnership – Another big thing about any health coach brand is that they are a partner during the recovery. Having an office that allows the person to enter and wait to see you without an appointment shows your commitment to their wellness and will show them you are a partner in the process and not the dictator.
- Being a health coach means your patient could have personal entanglements, like family issues. An open setting in the office means they have a place to come when the times are bad. These entanglements could be life or death situations. Having a safe space for your clients could save their lives.
- Culture – Creating a culture is one of the best ways to make a safe space effective. Having patients pop in and meet to discuss issues could create a healing culture that improves the lives of your patients. Keep the spaces open and safe for clients to mingle and possibly discuss treatment strategies with one another.
Having a safe area for patients is another great guideline for health coaches. Keeping a place free from outside interference sets a stage for patients to feel welcome and hopeful. Amid a nasty illness, you search for all the hope you can find.
7. Being there Emotionally for Their Patients is a Coach's Top Priority
The type of training that health coaches go through shows them how to be an emotional support beacon for patients. Knowing how to react when people are dealing with a significant illness is a superpower, and health coaches concentrate on the wellness of their patients. After a long illness, patients often cite the emotional support of friends and family as their saving grace.
8. Helping a Patient Set Goals is Another Excellent Guideline to Follow
The goals that are set by a health coach’s patients will dictate how they live the rest of their lives. Patients see coaches because they want to move past their illness and into the world of wellness. Therefore, a coach must teach a patient to set goals that will help them become more enamored with getting well.
A few things to think about when setting goals for a patient are:
- Safety – Are the goals you are setting for your patient safe? Usually, when a patient is in this situation, they don’t need outside factors hampering their road to recovery. Instead, choose secure options to keep your client on track to meet the set goals.
- Attainability – Set goals for your clients that are attainable. They need to be pushed but are able to reach the goal without full-out effort. Achievable goals aren’t easy. Put the patient through the paces to improve their health.
Goal setting is one of the most important things a coach can be involved in. They work with patients to set a clearer goal for their wellness beyond the doctor’s office. Goals are a huge part of this work, and having goals that are safe and attainable are critical step in the process.
9. Boundaries are What Make the Relationship Work
Just like a romantic or work relationship, there needs to be boundaries between coach and patient. These boundaries work to keep the relationship focused on the patient’s healing and not on the connection between patient and coach.
Health coaching is an excellent way for medical personnel to influence the wellness habits of their patients. For example, if a significant illness has derailed their goals, a health coach works with them to handle all the physical and emotional problems that could occur. In addition, a positive attitude is imperative if you are recovering from an illness or major disease.
By following a few strategies and guidelines, a health coach becomes the number one supporter of the patient. The bond formed between them could last much longer than the recovery period and be a valued friendship that benefits all parties. If you are interested in following this career path, explore the health coach salary and career info here.