Introduction to Holistic Health & Wellness

Health and wellness coaches work with clients to improve their health, vitality, and well-being by engaging in behaviors that have been proven to improve health and prevent disease including weight loss, fitness, nutrition, stress coping, sleep, mind-body and positive psychology interventions. The outcome of health and wellness coaching is expanded capacity for lifestyle change and sustainable lifestyle change. Many people struggle with something that is damaging their well-being — e.g. uncontrolled stress, excess weight, life balance, low energy, poor fitness, inadequate levels of positive emotions, or a medical condition. They find it difficult to engage, day in day out, in investing in their health and well-being in order to foster vitality and avoid a preventable illness.

While some people are what behavioral psychologists call “pre-contemplators” – either in denial or at rock bottom confidence levels around lifestyle change, most people can be described as “contemplators.” They frequently think about living healthier lifestyles and weigh up the pros and cons for change. Good intentions and earnest attempts abound. What fails is the implementation – people lack lifestyle and psychological knowledge, skills, capacities, processes, tools, mindsets, and support leading to autonomous, lasting lifestyle change.

Coaches help people overcome the struggle, and build resources such as self-empathy, self-motivation, self-awareness, mindfulness, new insights and perspectives, confidence, optimism, and resilience, and make changes that last. Their new lifestyles become embedded into who they are.

The main dimensions of the work of health and wellness coaches include:

Serving as wellness role models

Enabling a holistic and personalized integration of multiple lifestyle areas

Facilitating the gain of lifestyle knowledge and skills just in time

Facilitating the building of psychological resources that enable lasting change

Facilitating a process of change

Connecting to other resources and professional experts as needed or desired

Standards for qualifications, training, and certification, as well as the distinction between health coaches and wellness coaches are needed and a priority for this emerging profession.