Have you heard the saying, “Can’t see the forest for the trees”? It describes our tendency to focus so closely on one issue that we can’t see the entire context of the problem.
Seeing the entire context is the logic behind holistic health coaching. It looks at how an individual’s lifestyle affects their overall health and well-being. This coaching niche understands that achieving wellness doesn’t just mean creating goals around one health concern. Wellness must consider the emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of a person’s life.
If you’re interested in health and how the mind and body contribute to a person’s wellness, consider a career as a holistic health coach. Coaching is a rewarding profession in which you help clients overcome hurdles and reach their goals. And in a role that treats wellness so comprehensively, you may witness significant changes in your clients’ happiness and satisfaction in life.
Sound like a good fit? Read on to learn how to become a holistic health coach.
What is holistic health coaching?
Holistic coaches consider their clients’ physical, spiritual, and emotional states and support them as they try to change their routines and habits.
These coaches consider nutrition, relationships, and fitness and promote healthy choices in every area of clients’ lives. Holistic health coaches educate their clients about food, exercise, sleep, and stress management. They pinpoint obstacles clients face when trying to implement healthy habits, like the stressors in a person’s life or reasons they’re unable to get proper rest or relaxation.
Coaches aren’t healthcare professionals, so they can’t provide medical advice like a doctor, nutritionist, or therapist. They're also not fitness professionals like personal trainers or nutrition experts like dietitians. Health coaches are mentors who guide their clients by providing education and support about fostering healthier habits and environments.
Good coaches must know where their work ends and a doctor’s begins. For example, a health coach can educate clients about healthier dietary choices, but they shouldn’t devise meal plans to treat a condition or disease. Coaches should encourage clients to continue seeking medical care from licensed health professionals, even while improving their lifestyles through a coaching program.
The benefits of being a holistic health coach
You already know holistic health coaching is rewarding work. But there are a few more reasons to consider this job.
- It can improve your health: That’s right — as a holistic health coach, you’re not only improving your clients’ well-being, you’re working on your own. You can only focus on your clients’ needs when you take care of yourself first. You need to practice what you teach and take a holistic approach to improving your own health to be most effective. Following your own advice and setting an excellent example for your clients will boost your wellness.
- There’s no one way to do the job: You may envision yourself working in an office, holding one-on-one coaching sessions with clients. And while this is one way to practice, you can put your knowledge to work in other ways. You could develop a wellness program or, if you enjoy writing, write a blog or a book. If you’re interested in the science of wellness, you can team up with a nutritionist or doctor and support their work with patients.
How to become a health coach
To be a great coach, you must be an expert in your trade well — and never stop learning. Wellness is a sensitive matter, and holistic health coaches should take their training seriously. No governing body will deem you fit to practice, so the onus is on you to learn as much as possible before receiving clients. Here’s how you can get your start:
- Do your research: Find a training or coaching program that will provide the knowledge you need to do your job well. Avoid a program if it looks suspiciously short or the coursework seems sparse. You want to go in prepared. Look for programs like these:
- Emory University Health and Wellness Certificate
- Duke University Health Coach Professional Training Certification
- Dr. Sears Wellness Institute Health Coach Certification
- HCI Dual Life & Health Coach Certificate Program
- National Society of Health Coaches Evidence-based Health Coach Certification
- Holistic Health Coach Certification Online from AFPA Fitness
- Precision Nutrition’s Master Health Coaching Certification
As part of your research, talk to coaches already in the field and learn more about their experience. They may be able to recommend a program, and they’ll be able to provide insights about what they’ve learned on the job.
- Make a business plan: Draft a plan that details how you’ll run your business and attract new clients. Make sure to describe your current financial situation and goals. Plus, research how to register your business in your state correctly.
- Start coaching clients: Once you have the knowledge you need to run your coaching practice and a plan for your business, you’re ready to take on your first clients. Start small so you can learn how much time and energy your sessions take to avoid becoming overbooked and stressed. Plus, you can apply what you learn from your first clients to those to come. Consider getting a customer relationship management (CRM) system to stay organized. The one we offer at Practice will help you make appointments, communicate with your clients, and send documents back and forth securely.
Where do holistic health coaches work?
Not sure if you want to open your own coaching business? No worries. In this line of work, there are many ways to practice and several places to do so. This is excellent news for anyone starting on a new career path — you have the freedom to carve out a way of working that suits you without jumping into a solo business venture. Here are a few places you could potentially work as a holistic health coach:
- Community centers
- Rehabilitation centers
- Weight loss centers
- Wellness centers
- Fitness centers
- Schools and other academic environments
- Corporate offices
Holistic health coaching FAQs
Can you practice without a holistic health coach certification?
You don’t have to be a certified holistic health coach to practice, but we recommend going in prepared. Remember that even if you do a training or certification program, you’re not licensed to give medical advice.
How long does it take to be a holistic health coach?
If you pursue certification or enroll in a training program, you could complete your studies in anywhere from 6–24 months. Every program is different, so these are just estimates. Some programs allow you to direct your learning to progress at your own pace.