Health Coaching: What?

By: Barbara Powell, NBC-HWC

I am a health coach. And I get asked all the time: What is health coaching?

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Clients come to see me because they feel stuck. They feel anxious or worried or frustrated. They simply know they want to make a change, but they might not be sure how. Maybe they are overwhelmed by a decision or feeling unheard in their relationship. They might want to lose weight or lower blood pressure or surround themselves by more loving people or settle a dispute in their heart that is years in the making. They may be sick from anger or unable to forgive or in an emotional rut.  Clients come to see me as a health coach because they want to move forward. Where therapy digs into the past and the psychology of behaviors, coaching acknowledges the power of a person’s present moment. Coaching is not therapy, but there are moments where it sure does feel similar to it. 

In our daily lives, this can be challenging. Stress, emotions, relationships, decision making, sense of purpose, resistance to change, habits, lifestyles-- you name it, it adds up. When you notice what may be holding you back or giving you energy, you can then begin to move forward from it--or with it. 

Health Coaching offers a space where that discovery process can happen. Coaches listen with empathy to each person’s experience. We are human too, continuing to “do the work” ourselves. Coaches create an open and explorative space where clients can unpack and process. Nothing is prescriptive. It simply allows clients to come as they are and move in the direction they want to go that day. The client always chooses. Over time, those intentional moments can lead toward shifts and self-realization. 

Coaches partner with clients to set realistic goals. Look deeper. Set boundaries. Learn communication skills. Get unstuck. Formulate a plan. Connect to the body. See the big picture. Name the barriers. Love the self. See the other side. Shift perspective. Celebrate the wins. Grieve the losses. Be present. Uncover and let go of old beliefs. Create new ways of being. Coaching is a way for a person to build a deepened relationship with themselves--and really listen to what we call one’s inner wisdom. 

Take a moment, right now, to breathe in as deeply as you can. Fill your chest, your belly. Feel your body expand with this inhale and then collapse with the following exhale. Whatever thoughts you are bound to have in this moment, acknowledge them. (Perhaps today you watch them drift through your mind, like watching clouds move through the sky.) Take stock of your body: Are you sitting? Standing? Curled up against a pet or sitting solo on a hard bench? What physical sensations do you notice? Does this moment bring up any emotions or memories? Notice what you can. 

This is an example of presence. It’s when you can notice your mental activity, emotional undertow, physical sensations, and your place in the world around you. When you have a deliberate stockpile of this on-purpose presence, you can create a sanctuary--of harmony and well-being. Another way of saying it is: what we focus on is what we give power to. 

This summer, Not Quite Sunday is exploring Integrative Health Coaching: what it is, where health coaches can be found and who these health coaches are.  As a health coach myself, I have a deep connection to sharing this work. I want to pull back the curtains and show the world more about the process, especially how it’s known here in the Twin Cities. In a series of articles and videos, we will capture interviews with coaches and reveal an insider look at various integrative services and companies. 

Have you had an experience with Health Coaching OR are a NBC-HWC (National Board Certified Health and Wellbeing Coach)? We’d love to include your experiences and insight. Please email with a brief note and I will follow up with you. Thank you!