Health coaching is a great career path for those who are passionate about wellness. Once you have your health coach certification, you can start to assist your clients to lead healthy lifestyles. This can mean all manner of things, ranging from stress management and healthy life choices to physical activity and weight loss. The following will help you understand what health coaching is and how you can get your certification.
What is health coaching?
The International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching (ICHWC) defines a health and wellness coach as a professional who can come from any professional background but works with individuals and groups to help them attain their self-determined health and wellness goals. A good health coach applies skills and knowledge to help their client to mobilize their innate potential to achieve sustainable change.
There are many education-based interventions that are meant to help people achieve wellness but those are often insufficient. A health coach takes it to the next level by helping their clients to tap into their innate motivations, confidence, and skills, which helps them to manage their situation while setting attainable goals. A health coach should have background in health and wellness, making them a more effective in their work. They can help their clients in the following ways:
- Effective communication – being an effective communicator entails the use of open-ended questions, active listening, and affirmation. It also entails the ability to summarize well in order to help the client to attain increased ownership and motivation to facilitate positive change.
- The health coach should know how to assist his clients to develop priorities through SMART goals, or similar, and a framework for monitoring progress and behavior change.
- A health coach can help their clients to exploit their inner strengths for positive change.
The health coach must be careful not to offer or purport to offer services that are outside their scope. These include counseling and therapy, exercise prescription, diagnosing medical and health ailments, recommending the sale of supplements, and more. These should be left to licensed medical practitioners.
In addition to being a member of the ICF, a health coach should also adhere to physical activity guidelines as stipulated by respective reputable organizations. These include the American Council of Exercise (ACE), the American Heart Association (AHA), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). It would also be a good idea for the health coach to stay up to date with the dietary guidelines of the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Finally, a health coach must maintain professionalism while interacting with clients. The Aim Higher Life Coach Certification program encourages every life coach to join the ICF and adhere to the ICF code of ethics.
Why health coaching is needed
Urbanization has had its toll on the general public. Most people in the cities have to work in offices all day and spend a lot of time commuting in their cars. Tiresome travel, coupled with the prevalent unhealthy lifestyles like eating junk food and other harmful activities like excessive consumption of alcohol, has compounded to the burden of chronic diseases. According to the CDC, at least 117 million adults in America are suffering from some chronic health condition. Some of the common conditions include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, obesity, and cancer. Needless to say, a lot of money is spent on treating and managing these diseases.
As the health crisis continues to worsen by the day, there is a growing need for health coaching. Health coaching has proven to help clients to make positive life changes that have helped to lessen the exposure to lifestyle diseases like obesity. This is probably why the U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that overweight and obese adults should have behavior change interventions that promote movement, healthy diets, and other cardiovascular disease prevention.
As a health coach, you get to enjoy a rewarding career working with groups and individuals to help them lead healthier lives. You can do this through face-to-face sessions or you can utilize technology and use online forms like video conferencing. You can interact with clients in various settings, including but not limited to clinical settings, businesses, health insurance companies, education institutions, community centers, holistic health facilities, client homes/offices, health clubs, fitness centers, etc.
How to become certified health coach
Certification provides a solid basis for evaluating a person’s competency for the job in question and that is why you should get certified as a health coach. In any profession, the certification process is meant to identify the primary tasks to be performed by the certified professional on a day-to-day basis. Once you have gone through a certification program, you will get to acquire knowledge, skills, and proficiency for practicing as a professional health coach.
One of the critical decisions to make when aspiring to be a certified health coach is which certification program to go with. There many options available and the only way to know which ones are good is to look for programs that are accredited with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). The ICF is the gold standard for life coaching and it ensures professionalism is maintained in the life coaching profession. They do this by offering credentials to life coaches as well as accrediting institutions that offer coach-specific training.
The American Council of Exercise (ACE) recommends that every health coach should be certified. For certification to be valid, it should be from an institution that is validated by an independent third party. After receiving certification from an ICF accredited program such as Aim Higher Professional Life Coach Certification, getting your ICF credentials is a great way of demonstrating a high standard of competence and professionalism. It shows would-be clients that you have mastered the coaching competencies and have the skills to help their clients achieve positive life changes.
To obtain your ICF health coach credential, you need to start by getting coach-specific training. There are many institutions that offer life coach training, but it is always a good idea to look for an institution is listed in the ICF directory. The ICF does in-depth reviews of the coaching curriculum of their accredited programs to ensure they give the best training for their students. However, it is not necessary to go through a program that specializes in health coaching, as long as the program helps you determine your coaching niche. No matter what your coaching specialty, an ICF accredited program will teach you how to use and apply the ICF core competencies and Code of Ethics.
One of the advantages of getting your training through a program that is ICF accredited is that you can earn continuing coaching education credits in both core competencies as well as resource development. These credits will come in handy when applying for ICF membership as well as when applying for the ICF life coaching credentials. There are three credentials that you can apply for from the ICF;
- The Associate Certified Coach credential (ACC)
- The Professional Certified Coach credential (PCC)
- The Master Certified Coach credential (MCC)
There are minimum requirements for all the three credentials above that you must meet to qualify. These are:
- Training hours – You need at least 60 training hours for the ACC, 125 for the PCC, and 220 for the MCC.
- Mentor hours – You need at least 10 mentor hours for all the three credentials.
- Logged life coaching hours – For the ACC credential, you will need at least 100 logged coaching hours, while the PCC and MCC need 500 and 2500 hours respectively.
- Coach knowledge assessment – Coach knowledge assessment is a prerequisite for all three credentials.
Additionally, there are various paths that you can use to attain the three credentials from the ICF. These paths are the portfolio path, the ACSTH path, and the ACTP path. The path that will work for you depends on the training program completed.
Steps to become an ICF credentialed health coach
Here is a detailed guide on the steps to follow to get your ICF health coach certification
- Complete an ICF accredited coach training program
The best way to get your ICF credential is via the accredited coach training program route. The training will help you become a world-class health coach because you will be trained according to the stringent ICF core competencies. It is also the easiest route because the training hours will also count when qualifying for the credential. You need at least 60 approved coach specific training hours (ACSTH) or you can also through an (ACTP) accredited coaching training program.
- Fulfill the required coaching hours
The minimum required coaching experience hours is 100 and at least 75 of these hours should be paid hours. In addition, 25 of these hours should be within 18 months of your application. This is an important requirement and the ICF uses it to gauge your experience and coaching skills. You will need to fill the ICF coaching log to demonstrate that you have met the minimum hours as required.
- Get a mentor coach
To become an ICF credentialed health coach (ACC, PCC, or MCC), you must have at least 10 hours of mentor coaching. The 10 hours should be over at least three months and they should be well documented when making your credential application. The mentor hours do not include the time you spend listening to a coaching session; they have to be hours spent receiving direct feedback from your coach.
Also, these are cumulative hours and they don’t necessarily need to be from one mentor. You can add several mentor sessions from different individuals to total the required 10 hours. Group mentoring is also allowed as long as only a maximum of 7 hours will be group sessions and 3 will be one-on-one mentoring. Furthermore, the group session shouldn’t exceed 10 participants per session.
- Complete the coach knowledge assessment.
The final step is to display your proficiency and knowledge of the ICF coaching standards, the code of ethics, and the core competencies. This is done by completing the coach knowledge assessment (CKA). This is not difficult once you have completed the first 3 steps. It is a good idea to pay for your ICF membership before this assessment because it will be cheaper that way.
We have a serious health crisis in society today and there is a dire need for qualified and professional health coaches. As a health coach, you can help people be their best by making healthy lifestyle choices. But make sure you have your certification first, giving your credibility and making it easier for potential clients to see you are an expert in your field.