Health Coaching: Expert Insights

Posted by: BeneFIT Corporate Wellness
Date: November 2, 2018

A conversation with our health coaches:

Linda Fenstermaker, RN, Clinical Health Coach
Kacie Heilman Miller, CHWC, ISSA-PT, NBC-HWC, Board-Certified Health Coach
Erica Hudak, CHWC, CTTS, NBC-HWC, Board-Certified Health Coach
Christie Lanasa, CHWC, RN, ED.S., NBC-HWC, Board-Certified Health Coach
Tiffany Ritter, RD, LDN, CHWC, NBC-HWC, Board-Certified Health Coach

We asked the national board-certified health coaches and the clinical health coach at BeneFIT to have an honest discussion about their experiences with coaching. Here’s what we learned:

Populytics: What is your favorite part about being a health coach?


Christie:
I think we all agree that we love getting to know people and celebrating their successes together. I personally feel honored when people share their struggles with me, and it is very meaningful to help someone feel better and more in control of their own life.

Kacie: I love being able to learn about each person and watch them grow throughout the coaching journey. It’s incredible to see someone gain confidence and strength just from conversation, reflection, and self-awareness. Those are truly powerful tools.

Tiffany: The relationship and connection you make with people. It’s such a privilege to be invited into someone’s life to partner with them toward their wellness goals. I always believe life is better together, and coaching allows us to partner with individuals so they don’t have to do it alone. It’s amazing to see how they grow and move toward the dreams they have for themselves. They feel heard, and supported and that’s just priceless. To see them change and move forward is truly remarkable.

Linda: Getting a new health diagnosis can be very scary. As a clinical health coach I am able to be there for a person, to give them as much support as they may need: To help them transition this new diagnosis into their everyday life and make them successful.

Erica: That moment when a person comes to coaching overwhelmed about where to begin and leaves a session telling me how excited and ready they feel to get started on their next goals.


Populytics: How does health coaching differ from other health care services or therapy?


Kacie:
Unlike counseling, for instance, we don’t focus on what may have gone wrong in the past; we focus on a person’s growth and potential. Coaches help people become aware of their own strengths, and concentrate on their ability to thrive and move forward without dwelling on the past.

Tiffany: I agree; we’re not here to necessarily fix problems of the past. We’re here to look at what people are doing well, and help them stretch in areas they are interested in. We help them recognize who they are naturally, what they envision for themselves in the future, and then work together on a plan to get them there. This gives them a sense of autonomy and pride rather than a prescriptive approach of telling them what to do and how to do it.


Populytics:. How can coaching help with areas such as managing a health condition or reducing stress?


Linda:
In this case, empathy is very important because people can often feel overwhelmed by a specific health condition. As coaches, we are able to devote the time to really listen to their concerns and questions. We discuss how they feel and what next steps they feel ready and confident to do in a nonjudgmental and supportive way. It helps to relieve the stress of the situation. I worked with someone who felt their diabetes was out of control, to the point that it affected his wife and children. After a few coaching sessions, we developed a trust and rapport which gave him enough confidence and motivation to go back to the endocrinologist for lab work. It was his first step to better managing his diabetes and to restore his family life.

Christie: People tend to want to be super multi-taskers and strive for unrealistic expectations, forgetting about themselves in the process. And unfortunately, this is part of our culture. When we coach people who want to get off the “hamster wheel,” we help them prioritize and determine what they feel ready to tackle first. We meet them wherever they are in their lives and help them take manageable steps toward what they want to achieve.


Populytics: Change can be hard. How do you help people get started with their wellness goals?


Erica:
Sometimes there are discrepancies between what a person thinks they want and what they actually need. I worked with a women whose main goal was to lose weight because she thought it would make her happier. After a few coaching sessions, she realized there were other areas of her life that she needed to focus on first before she was ready to tackle weight loss. This shift in direction happens often, which is why our coaching model is flexible and driven by the needs of our participants.

Kacie: There are different stages of change that people go through. As coaches, we are trained to identify them and use different interventions to allow that person to progress when they are ready. Most people have great intentions and often know what they need to do, but they may not be prepared to turn those intentions into reality. Coaches meet people where they are in the current moment and help them create a realistic plan to progress into the future.

Linda: Yes, I agree. We specialize in helping people get started and work through the challenges of change. Setbacks can happen, but we help people view them as learning scenarios and tools that will help them in the future.


Populytics: What are some pearls of wisdom about health coaching you’d like people remember?


Tiffany:
Health coaching can be ongoing, and we are always here to support you. There may be times when you participate in coaching more often, and times you participate less. Either way, we are here to help and travel alongside you throughout your journey. Coaching is fun, and it works. So if you are interested in moving forward with your wellness goals, working with a trained health and wellness coach can really make the difference.

Christie: There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to wellness. There are many ways to advance yourself and truly thrive.

Linda: Goals have to be individualized and realistic for each person and need to be adaptable over time. We focus on outcome goals and help participants put them into manageable time frames for their schedule and where they are in their lives.

Erica: Health coaching is all about identifying people’s strengths, their values, looking for resources they can use, brainstorming solutions, and continuing to progress without getting weighed down by barriers or setbacks.

Kacie: We have the ability to gain insight into someone’s ideal state of health and well-being and really tap into what’s important to them. That insight is crucial to helping someone change.


Want to know more?

Watch our short webinar to learn more: What is Health Coaching …really?

For more information on health coaching programs for your company, contact us.