Wellness Coaching: Latest Trends
AUGUST 5, 2019
BY JEFFREY E. AUERBACH, PH.D., MCC
"We want to be well. We yearn to be in control and feel better. We want more energy," says Margaret Moore, board member of the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaches. "But there is an enormous gap between wanting to be well and the everyday reality of living with the mental and physical health penalties of overeating, under-exercising, and having too little down time.”
Doctors' Views on Wellness Coaching
Dr. Jeffrey Auerbach, author of the Wellness Coaching Workbook, a collection of tools and homework assignments for wellness coaching clients, says he wrote the book because most of his executive coaching clients reported they were, “Both physically and emotionally depleted.” Auerbach shares, “I find that given the choice, most executive coaching clients want to include a wellness and well-being focus into their executive coaching.”
Physicians are increasingly utilizing wellness coaches to help their clients live a healthier lifestyle. Michael Lano, MD. Director of the Ridgeview Clinics, a network of primary care facilities in Minneapolis, refers several patients a month to wellness coaches.
Dr. Lano says, "I'm a family physician and I always tell my patients that it's my job to help them live a long, healthy life”. But 98% is their part, and that's what the coach helps with—everything from diet and exercise to emotional well-being. It's the same thing that we doctors deal with, but the coach deals with it from a lifestyle perspective."
Lano says he sees significant improvements in patients who work with wellness coaches. He reports most begin exercising and eating better, but also make other important changes as well, which has a positive effect on their overall life-satisfaction as well as their lifestyle.
Who is an Ideal Candidate for Wellness Coaching?
Dr. Lano says the ideal patient is someone who may not be doing anything bad, but they're not doing the good things. For example, “They're not eating well. They're not exercising. They're stressed. They're stuck. They're not making progress."
Dr. Jim Harburger found himself in that situation. The 66-year-old psychiatrist began to gain weight 32 years ago when he stopped smoking. Gradually, his weight went from 165 pounds to 220 pounds.
Much of the problem, Harburger says, was stress from his job as the director of a large behavioral health organization. He explained, “I was eating to handle the anxieties from my work.”
Harburger joined a gym. But like many others, he found it hard to get there and went only sporadically. He finally hired a corporate wellness coach.
"My coach was listening to me about my life, learning about how I managed eating, the stressors in my life, and my relationship to my body," he explains. "She became familiar with all aspects of my life. And slowly, she built a relationship that I started to value."
The result? Harburger said he visits the gym almost every day now, and dropped 40 pounds over a three-year period.
Wellness coaches say people come in expecting to be told what to do, but what actually works best for them is to slow down, think about their goals, and then determine the path themselves with the support of the trained coach.
Understanding Wellness Coaching
Michael Arloski, PhD, the author of Wellness Coaching for Lasting Change, argues, "We need to move from 'prescribe and treat,' or what I like to call 'education and implore'—where we're begging someone to change after we give them a lot of information—to a coaching model where we're advocates for change and become an ally with that person".
Wellness coaching clients usually pay $90 to $180 a session, and work with their coach for at least three to six months—or longer.
Business Wire’s "The U.S. Health Coaching Market" report documents that wellness coaching has emerged as a $6 billion service market, with a strong growth outlook, after analyzing wellness coaching utilization with Aetna, Cigna, Humana, United Health Group, Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Permanente and the Mayo Clinic.
Wellness and health coaches advise and facilitate clients to change poor lifestyle habits, manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, and find more well-being in their work and home life. Most wellness coaches are in private practice, at primary care offices, in corporate wellness programs, or are incorporating wellness coaching into their personal or executive coaching services. Large self-insured companies are using coaches to improve employee health and cut claims costs, as are healthcare insurers.
Why Demand is Increasing for Health and Wellness Coaches
The growing demand for wellness coaching is being driven by: