What is Health Coaching? If you’ve ever wondered this, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
I have been a health coach for over 10 years and it has been an immensely fulfilling experience. As an experienced Clinical Psychologist, my approach to health coaching is slightly different from the norm. Being able to combine my experience as a psychologist and my own personal successes with health coaching allows me to offer a unique perspective to my clients. I believe the results of this have been powerful.
Let me back up a little bit. Twenty years ago, a bad car accident left me with trauma and several back injuries. At the time, I was a single mother in graduate school and became overwhelmed with depression and anxiety. Two of the most mortal enemies of your Best Life. After over a year of physical therapy, stretching, exercise, tens machines, and ice packs, I realized that until I gained control over my beliefs about condition, my expectations, and my anxiety that the pain was going to be the least of my worries.
It was during this phase of my life that I began to learn about the intimate connection between the mind and body. After learning techniques to calm my mind, I was able to alter my outlook very quickly and it became readily apparent to me that the stress in my mind was indisputably exacerbating the pain in my body. Learning to create a calm and peaceful mind amidst stressful times was crucial to my healing and achieving the holistic wellness which I still strive for each day.
Years of teaching behavioral medicine and mind-body connections to graduate students, further solidified the importance of a positive mindset, not only with pain but for any type of illness. I have combed through literally thousands of research studies and students’ papers on this topic. The research repeatedly shows that negativity of the mind depletes the immune system which breeds illness, in addition to creating tension and pain in the body.
So, back to question of what is integrative health coaching? Most health coaching today, focuses on enhancing physical health. Exercising and eating a healthy diet. This approach, although great, does not look at the whole picture. Our physical health is unequivocally linked to the quality of our mental and spiritual health. The mind is the engine for the body. Therefore, being able to develop healthy thought patterns is crucial. These new thought patterns and beliefs actually develop new neurological pathways in the brain. This in turn affects the functioning of the neurological system, hormones, and neurotransmitters in the physical body.
Given that the mind is the driving force of our life, it is also important to have knowledge of the foods and nutritional substances that affect how our brain functions. For example, many studies have shown that people that suffer with depression and anxiety have deficiencies in vitamin B-12, D3, and the Omegas. Understanding this and making these nutritional changes is an important component of health coaching.
A positive mindset is crucial to wellness, however we are living in a world that thrives on negativity. Teaching clients how to rise above this and live in higher levels of consciousness with positive thoughts and expectancies allows them to reach their optimal level of wellness. For example, if someone is inundated with stressful and negative thoughts and belief systems, or is in a very stressful marriage or work environment, it is virtually impossible for them to heal from cancer. I have yet to see a client that is depressed and anxious heal from chronic back pain.
Learning mindfulness-based stress management skills is essential in breaking the mind-body-spirit cycle of poor health. Your natural state of being is to be in peace. This is where the spiritual component of wellness fits in. If we develop a connection with a higher power, we do not feel alone and isolated, but rather we realize that we are divinely supported. This understanding and experience provides great comfort and peace. We learn that all really does unfold perfectly, that bruises really are blessings in disguise, and that staying in the present moment allows happiness in the now.
In summary, health coaching, or as more are beginning to refer to it as integrative coaching (IHC), is a process that facilitates healthy, sustainable thought and behavioral patterns that lead to healthy outcomes and optimal functioning of the human mind, body, and spirit. The goal is to solidify healthy habits by putting theory into action. Health coaching draws on the principles of positive psychology, synergy, energetic support, and the practices of motivational interviewing, goal setting, and mindfulness to assist you in becoming all that you were meant to be.
To find out more about the Integrative Health Coach Training Programs offered, click below.
TRAINING PROGRAMS OFFERED