• Megan Little

Why Work With a Health Coach?

Updated: May 10

The term 'Health Coach' is not protected like other medical professionals (think doctor, therapist, or dietician). Anyone on the internet can call themselves a health coach. Because the profession is not regulated like that of other medical professionals, I like to think of it as the wild wild west. It is further amplified by social media and everyone and anyone making health claims, dishing out advice, and claiming that the latest and greatest will work for you because it worked for them.

True health coaching is actually based on science and theory. It has a foundation in the concepts of Motivational Interviewing, Appreciative Inquiry, the Trans-theoretical Model of Change (Stages of Change), and a few other behavioral science theories. Many of these concepts have been around since the 1970s, and have continued to evolve and shape the way we think about behavior changes.

Working with a coach who understands aspects of behavior change is important to the process. Not only will an NBC-HWC have a background in health and wellness, but they will also understand the science behind how to help you change. This translates into helping you figure out what will work best for you and less telling you what to do (which is what most 'health coaches' out there do today).

I agree, sometimes it is nice to not have to think, to not have to plan, to not have to put a lot of effort into the process. We want people to tell us what to do. How to do it. We want step-by-step instructions. This is sometimes an easier way to attain the results we are looking for. However, that type of process usually does not result in lasting change. It doesn't provide the same type of ownership that creating your own plan will.


When you take ownership of your desire to change, you dig deep into what will work for you. The right coach will help you create a clear vision for what your health goals are, outline your steps for getting there, create goals (experiments) for getting you there, and help you adjust when you need. They will ask challenging questions, but never tell you what to do. They will encourage you and push you past your comfort zone while reminding you that it is a safe space to make changes.

Behavior science is not a new area of health behavior change. The field of health coaching is projected to grow significantly in the next decade due to the need for individualized care. What works for one person will not always work for another. This method of health coaching allows us to take some of the same theories that we used to create public health programs and use them on an individual level, giving personalized care to people wanting to make changes. There are no two people on the same path that have the same motivations, the same desired outcomes, the same resources, and the same medical history.

What could you gain while working with a health coach who listens to you and uses science to help you change your health behaviors?

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