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Health-Based Coaching and Wellness

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During this fifth year (2018) in publishing The Future of Coaching we made the unprecedented decision to devote three of the four issues to coaching in one sector of society: health care. The first two issues focused on the coaching of healthcare professionals (especially physicians). In this fourth issue, we look at health-related coaching from a different perspective—that of those who are the recipient of information and treatment in the domain of health.

We see great opportunities, challenges and benefits associated with what we are calling “health-based coaching.” There are great opportunities to be found in complementing the treatment, amelioration and prevention services being offered by healthcare professionals. There are many ways in which we, as professional coaches, can contribute to the dialogue about where healthcare services should be directed in the near future—a fundamental concern that is being articulated in communities throughout the world. These opportunities have already been acknowledged in the professional coaching community. Many health coaching training programs have been established, and there are even at least two organizations that certify health coaches: the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching (that we are featuring in this issue) and the National Society of Health Coaches.

While many of the current health-based coach training programs focus on assisting clients in sustaining wellness, preventing illness and injury, and successfully recovering from illness and injury, there is much more to be done – and this issue of Future of Coaching points to the potential future for health-based coaching. We offer an expanded perspective on health-based coaching by identifying the multiple levels at which health-based coaches can operate. We also frame our analysis of health-based coaching in a systemic manner—noting that coaches can not only serve their clients with regard to health-related issues but also help enhance the relationship established between their coaching clients and the healthcare professionals with whom their client interacts. Research shows health-based coaching creates a platform for more effective patient engagement.

This, in turn, influences the way in which the caregivers themselves are providing the care. Burnout among caregivers—physicians, nurses and others—affects patient care quality. In turn, patient attitudes regarding the care they are receiving and the behavior they exhibit during their interaction with caregivers influences the extent of burnout. It is a highly interactive process—a vicious cycle. The burnout challenge for caregivers is common enough that the National Academy of Medicine formed the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience. We suggest our coaching clients can also experience “burnout” regarding the care they are receiving (or not receiving). With health-based coaching, we can assist our clients in reducing this burnout – and can indirectly have an impact on the burnout of the caregivers. A perfect (positive) storm – a virtuous cycle!

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