What is Health Coaching

The Value of a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC)
Expert reviewed on
January 11, 2024

Many of us face obstacles to our wellbeing and can benefit from the guidance and support of a health coach. In particular, a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC) is an expert in behavior change who can help you transform your health and achieve your wellness goals.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of health coaching, the role of NBC-HWCs, and how they can empower you to make lasting changes in your life. From understanding the foundations of health coaching to discovering the evidence-based benefits, we will delve into the principles and practices that make NBC-HWCs invaluable in the field of integrative health and lifestyle medicine. So, let’s embark on this transformative journey and unlock the potential of health coaching.

What is Health Coaching?

Health coaching is a collaborative process that empowers individuals to make mindset and health behavior changes to enhance their wellbeing. It is a partnership between you and the coach, where the coach provides guidance, support, and accountability, while you are the decision-maker on how and when you want to make change. 

Health coaching is not health education, providing information, and advice; it focuses on mindset change and behavior change, helping individuals cultivate the skills and habits of body and mind necessary for sustainable wellness.

At the heart of health coaching is the belief that each person is unique, with their own values, strengths, and aspirations. A health coach has unconditional positive regard and respects individuality, working with you to identify your goals, explore their motivations, and develop personalized action plans. By leveraging evidence-based strategies and coaching techniques, health coaches empower you to overcome obstacles, navigate challenges, and make lasting changes in your health behaviors.

The Role of NBC-HWCs in Transformative Health Coaching

National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coaches (NBC-HWCs) are highly trained professionals who have undergone rigorous certification and training programs. They possess an understanding of the science of health behavior change and are skilled in the art of coaching. The certification process for NBC-HWCs ensures that they have met the highest standards of professional competence and ethical conduct. They have completed accredited coaching programs and passed a rigorous examination to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in health coaching. As mindset and behavior change experts, NBC-HWCs are equipped with the tools and techniques to guide clients through the process of setting goals, overcoming barriers, and sustaining long-term behavior change.

Foundations of Health Coaching: Mindset, Motivation, and Action

A fundamental principle of health coaching is the recognition that mindset plays a crucial role in shaping our behaviors and outcomes. Our beliefs, attitudes, and self-perceptions greatly influence our ability to make positive changes in our health. NBC-HWCs work with you to cultivate a growth mindset, fostering the belief that change is possible and that setbacks are opportunities for learning and growth.

Motivation is another key factor in successful behavior change. NBC-HWCs employ motivational interviewing techniques to help you explore your intrinsic motivations, values, and priorities. By eliciting your reasons for change and helping you connect deeply with your goals, NBC-HWCs empower you to tap into your internal sources of motivation and drive.

Action is the bridge between intention and transformation. NBC-HWCs guide you in developing actionable steps and strategies tailored to their unique circumstances and preferences. These action plans are realistic, sustainable, and aligned with the your values and priorities. Through ongoing support, accountability, and adjustments as needed, NBC-HWCs ensure that you stay on track and make progress towards your goals at your pace.

The Benefits of Health Coaching: Empowering Change and Enhancing Wellbeing

The impact of health coaching extends far beyond the surface level. Numerous studies have shown the positive effects of health coaching on various aspects of wellbeing. From physical health markers to psychological wellbeing, health coaching has been proven to be a valuable tool in promoting sustainable mindset and health behavior change and improving overall quality of life.

Research has shown health coaching is valuable for prevention and management of conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and high blood sugar. These improvements are not only statistically significant but also clinically relevant, highlighting the tangible benefits of health coaching in managing chronic conditions and reducing the risk of complications.

In addition to physical health outcomes, health coaching has been shown to enhance mental and emotional wellbeing. Clients who have participated in health coaching report reduced stress levels, improved self-esteem, increased resilience, and greater overall life satisfaction. By addressing the underlying factors contributing to poor health, such as stress, nutrition, and lifestyle habits, health coaching fosters holistic wellbeing.

Integrative Health: A Synergistic Approach

Integrative health embraces a whole-person approach to health and wellbeing. These disciplines recognize the interconnectedness of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of health, and seek to address the root causes of illness and imbalance. NBC-HWCs are an integral part of the integrative health paradigm because they provide a vital link between conventional healthcare and holistic wellness by not focusing on modality per se but the process of change.

By integrating the principles of integrative health into their coaching practice, NBC-HWCs offer a comprehensive and personalized approach to wellness. They consider the unique needs, preferences, and circumstances of each client, tailoring their coaching strategies to align with client’s needs.

Becoming a NBC-HWC: Training and Certification

If you are passionate about helping others transform their health and wellbeing, becoming an NBC-HWC may be a fulfilling career path for you. While health coaching is currently an unregulated field, certification programs provide a standardized framework and ensure that coaches have the necessary skills and competencies to deliver high-quality coaching services.

Training programs typically cover a wide range of topics, including coaching techniques, behavior change theories, motivational interviewing, lifestyle medicine principles, and ethics. These programs may vary in duration and format, ranging from intensive in-person workshops to online courses that allow for flexible learning or full degree programs like the Master of Arts in Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coaching at the University of Minnesota. Upon successful completion of a training program and 50 practice sessions, aspiring coaches can take the certification examination to become an NBC-HWC.