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The Professionalization of Health and Wellness Coaching

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By: Frank Ardito and Leigh-Ann Webster

Introduction

Health and wellness coaching is one of the newest and most rapidly expanding sectors within healthcare.  The International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching (ICHWC) has been instrumental in professionalizing this emerging field.  According to the ICHWC, “A health and wellness coach is the change-agent that shifts the culture and delivery of healthcare from dependency to empowerment.”  The following represents a short chronology and eight milestones in the history of the ICHWC – each of which has contributed greatly to the advancement of this important growing profession.

Convening the Thought Leaders

Anthropologist Margaret Mead is often cited as having said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world:  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Nearly a decade ago, several industry visionaries convened such a group.  Their goal was to begin the process of creating national standards leading to a certification examination for the field of health and wellness coaching.  And so it began.

Capitalizing the Cause

Interest in advancing the field rapidly gained traction, thanks to dozens of industry-leaders committing literally thousands of volunteer hours.  In 2010, a generous grant provided by the Institute of Integrative Healthcare allowed for a two-day assembly of over sixty subject matter experts from a myriad of related industries and backgrounds.  It was at this time that sub-groups were formed to begin the laborious work of creating the standards.

Creating the Infrastructure

Two years later, the efforts of these pioneers led to additional fundraising and ultimately the formation of the non-profit organization known today as the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching (ICHWC).  The work continued, leading to the development of the industry’s first job task analysis (JTA).  The field of health and wellness coaching could finally operate with the underpinnings of a more robust evidence-base.

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