Health coaching is a relatively new field of practice, but its roots go way back. As long as humans have been around, we have struggled with living healthily.
What is healthy eating? What is a healthy exercise regimen? Where should we live, and how should we sleep, and what herbs and supplements should we be taking, if any?
All of these questions have been asked for thousands of years, and there’s still debate about the “correct” answer for each of them.
Perhaps the most correct answer is “It depends.” It depends on the individual, their lifestyle and goals, and their genetic code and unique biology.
Because good health information is context-dependent, and because there are few hard and fast rules about healthy living, health coaches are an excellent resource for people who want to get—and stay—healthy.
What is Health Coaching & Why Is It Important?
Health coaching is like any other kind of coaching, in that it involves a coach and a coachee, someone who provides coaching services and someone who receives them. But where most coaches might provide feedback on professional development and help their clients set and strive towards career goals, health coaches help their clients build and maintain healthier lives.
Researchers have defined health coaching as “helping patients gain the knowledge, skills, tools, and confidence to become active participants in their care so that they can reach their self-identified health goals.”
Health coaches can assist people in going from just living to really thriving, helping their clients with a wide range of issues, including:
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Stress reduction
- Management of chronic conditions
- Adopting a healthier diet
- Developing an exercise plan
- Quitting tobacco
- Adjusting to a life-altering health event (e.g., heart attack, stroke)
Health coaches may pull from a variety of techniques to help their clients build healthier lives, including goal setting, motivational interviewing, and collaborating with health care providers to maximize effectiveness.
Motivational interviewing is a core tool in the toolbox of most health coaches. It’s a tried-and-true method of helping clients figure out where they want to go, and why they want to get there. Health coaches might ask questions like:
- What are you dissatisfied with right now?
- What do you want to change about your life?
- How will your life be different if you reach your goal?
- What else will improve when you achieve your health goals?
- How do you think you will feel when you reach your health goals?
5 Proven Benefits of Health Coaching
There are many ways to do health coaching, depending on the goals and needs of the client and the skills and abilities of the coach. However, when done right, all types of health coaching have something in common: results.
Here are just a few of the things health coaching can do, according to the research literature:
- Lead to significant improvements in behaviors related to nutrition, physical activity, weight management, and/or medication adherence
- Produce long-term positive change in psychological, behavioral, and physiological outcomes
- Contribute significantly to better physical and mental health
- Result in significantly increased physical activity in older people, helping them to prevent chronic illness and maximize their independence
- Reduce symptoms of depression and hospitalizations in people with chronic disease
So, not only can health coaching help people learn about their own health and wellness, it can help them in actually applying what they learn and leading healthier lives overall.
Crafting Your Coaching Session: 3 Useful Templates
If you’re new to health coaching—or just want to spruce up your intake materials—this section is a great place to start. With these templates to guide you, you’ll be able to collect all the information you need (and then some!) to craft effective coaching sessions.
Intake Form Templates
If you’re looking for a good intake form to bring on new clients to your coaching practice, you’re in luck. There are tons of templates out there that you can use or adapt to suit your needs.
However, most of them are designed for general coaching rather than geared towards health coaching. These intake form templates offer three different options that will fit right in with a health coaching practice.
Stress Management Coaching Template
This template comes from certified wellness and stress management coach Jannine Oberg, and it’s a good example of a very comprehensive intake form. It’s sure to touch on all the important points of data you need to bring a new client into your practice.
Life/Wellness Coaching Template
This template is good for the broader category of life coaching, but it can be tweaked to fit a specific health coaching focus as well. It was created by True Nature Wellness and asks tons of good, thoughtful questions.
Dietary Coaching Intake Form
This intake template from Green Healing Wellness offers a diet-focused coaching intake form, which makes for a great template for any health coaches that specialize in diet and nutrition. It includes questions on current diet, water and alcohol intake, allergies, food rituals (like who you prepare food with and/or for), when you feel hungry and when you eat, and many more in-depth questions.
How To Perform Online Sessions: Helpful Techniques
If you just recently began coaching, or if you are just now moving to online coaching, you know that it can be a bit daunting to prepare for virtual sessions. There are so many variables and moving parts to think about when you start coaching online or move your practice online!
But fortunately, there are lots of benefits to online sessions to balance out the difficulties.
As you figure out your own practice’s standard operating procedures, keep these tips in mind:
- Sort out the logistics ahead of time (consider your location, your client’s location, privacy concerns, speed of the internet connection, etc.).
- Prepare yourself by getting to know the tools and platforms you plan to use (like videoconferencing software, webcams, etc.).
- Prepare your client by setting expectations and teaching them about the platform you will use.
- Plan for potential challenges of virtual coaching (like loss of connection or slow connection and external interruptions).
- Be present and mindful by checking in with a breathing exercise or meditation before your session.
- Create the right “container” or context for your client to help them be present too.
- Update the session contract with policies on how you will handle things like unexpected interruptions and techniques that were designed for in-person sessions.
- Be honest and authentic—if you are nervous, it’s okay to share that with your client!
- Trust the process; it might take more time or be a little more challenging than in person, but all will go well if you focus on building the coaching relationship.
- Trust yourself—there might be new obstacles, but remember that you know what to do and how to do it.
- Be mindful of how you are using your energy; take breaks and remember to get some fresh air now and then!
- Get the ending right—make sure you have enough time to wrap up and discuss next steps at the end.
What is the Best App & Software for Health Coaches?
Any coach who wants to build and maintain a successful practice will need to choose an online platform to work with.
Even if you don’t think you need one right away, you will eventually! As your practice grows, it becomes less and less feasible to handle all your clients through just emails and phone calls.
The best platform for you will depend on you and your clients: what you need to be successful, what your clients need to be successful, and what you need to build that effective coaching relationship together.
While there are many apps and software options available, there’s only one that can help you create care pathways, offers an easy drag-and-drop activity builder, and includes tons of evidence-backed resources you can use or customize for your practice: Quenza.
How to Use Quenza For Health Coaching 101
Quenza is an online tool that you can use to quickly and easily build out your own coaching paths. You can put together these paths based on what you know will help your clients on their journey to meeting their health goals—and you can create multiple different ones for different challenges and strategies.
There are tons of pre-made activities that are grounded in research, including exercises, psycho-education, forms, prompts, surveys, assessments, and evaluations. If none of them meet your exact needs, you can even create your own, adding different types of questions, text, images, and even audio or video.
For example, let’s say you have a lot of clients that struggle with disordered eating, and you have figured out an optimal path of education, exercises, and reflective prompts that help them build a healthier relationship with food. You might have a couple of educational resources, a worksheet, a couple of prompts to spur reflective journaling, and a mindful eating practice that always help clients with these particular issues.
With Quenza, you can build this exact pathway ahead of time with all the resources and activities that you know work well for your clients. Then, when you bring in a new client with the same struggle, you can simply choose this pathway and send it directly to them!
Quenza allows you to schedule these resources to go out at certain intervals, like once a week or 3 days after the last activity is completed. You can even add an evaluation at the end to get their feedback on the material and activities they engaged with.
Building Resources and Worksheets with Quenza
Quenza makes it easy to build your own customized resources for your clients.
You can use the activity builder to create assignments and worksheets with explanatory text, graphics, bits of audio and/or video, a number of different types of questions (e.g., text entry, multiple choice, drop-down, check boxes), and even date and time selections.
Not only can you create such easy-to-use resources, you also have the option of putting your own personal branding on them, making it easy for your clients to recognize your name and logo and the credibility that goes with them.
If you’re ready to give Quenza a try for only $1, head over to the start trial page.
Health coaching is moving online, along with pretty much all forms of coaching, and luckily there are tons of resources available to help you prepare for it.
Keep these tips in mind, check out the templates we included, and give Quenza a try. You’re bound to find at least one new resource or technique that can help you develop and sustain your own super successful health coaching practice in this increasingly digital world.
- ^ Bennett, H. D., Coleman, E. A., Parry, C., Bodenheimer, T., & Chen, E. H. (2010). Health coaching for patients with chronic illness. Family Practice Management 17, 24-29. Retrieved from https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2010/0900/p24.html
- ^ Grinspoon, P. (2020). Health coaching is effective. Should you try it? Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/health-coaching-is-effective-should-you-try-it-2020040819444
- ^ Olsen, J. M., & Nesbitt, B. J. (2010). Health coaching to improve healthy lifestyle behaviors: An integrative review. American Journal of Health Promotion 25, e1-e12. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.4278/ajhp.090313-LIT-101
- ^ Olsen, J. M., & Nesbitt, B. J. (2010). Health coaching to improve healthy lifestyle behaviors: An integrative review. American Journal of Health Promotion 25, e1-e12.
- ^ Dejonghe, L. A. L., Becker, J., Froboese, I., & Schaller, A. (2017). Long-term effectiveness of health coaching in rehabilitation and prevention: A systematic review. Patient Education and Counseling 100, 1643-1653.
- ^ Butterworth, S., Linden, A., McClay, W., & Leo, M. C. (2006). Effectiveness of motivational interviewing-based health coaching on employees’ physical and mental health status. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 11, 358-365.
- ^ Oliveira, J. S., Sherrington, C., Amorim, A. B., Dario, A. B., & Tiedemann, A. (2017).What is the effect of health coaching on physical activity participation in people aged 60 years and over? A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine 51, 1425-1432.
- ^ Thom, D. H., et al. (2018). Randomized controlled trial of health coaching for vulnerable patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Annals of the American Thoracic Society 15, 1159-1168.
- ^ Palmer, L., & Wonfor, D. (2020). Online coaching—12 key tips on how to run a successful session. Catalyst 14. Retrieved from https://www.catalyst14.co.uk/blog/online-coaching-tips