Have you heard about health coaching, but still curious about what it is, what it’s like to work with a health coach and how the process might benefit your health? Health coaching is an evolving field and quickly becoming a mainstay in healthcare. See below for answers to the most frequently asked questions.
What is a health coach?
A health coach is an expert in the process of health behavior change. Health coaches work in partnership with their clients to help them enhance personal accountability, set goals and take action to achieve and sustain health-supporting behaviors.
Do health coaches collaborate with other healthcare practitioners like physicians?
Yes. While a health coach should never replace a doctor or other practitioner, working with one can often serve as a bridge between medical recommendations and a patient taking action to create and maintain healthy behaviors. In fact, a 2014 Medscape report showed that while physicians are spending more time with patients, the majority spend less than 20 minutes per visit. Health coaches can help fill the gap by spending more time with patients, supporting them to move forward with health-supporting behaviors, such as those recommended by their physicians, dietitians, physical/occupational therapists, etc.
If you are a healthcare practitioner and interested in referring patients to me, please contact me at 312.890.3260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What types of clients do you typically work with?
In general, my clients are individuals who are motivated to improve their health. Typical goals include weight loss, healthier eating, increased exercise, or stress reduction (behaviors associated with disease prevention and reversal). However, each client is unique and this list is not exhaustive – many of my clients have had goals outside of these common health categories.
How long do clients work with you?
It varies, but I typically encourage clients to commit to a minimum of 3 months. This recommendation is based on the principles of behavior change, and allows my clients to make sustainable health behavior changes through small steps and repetition, and while receiving ongoing support and partnership from me as their health coach. I do offer some shorter programs that serve to introduce clients to coaching but still allow them to build confidence for change through repetition and health enhancing strategies.
Is there research that shows health coaching actually works?
Yes. Research in the field is on the rise, and there are numerous clinical studies that have already demonstrated positive health outcomes for individuals who work with health coaches in areas such as chronic disease management and prevention.
- A study conducted by Edelman et al. using multidimensional interventions, including health coaching designed to make favorable changes in patient behavior, concluded that there was a statistically significant reduction in the 10-year risk of coronary heart disease. 
- Research conducted by Wolever et al. (2006) suggests that integrative health coaching can help patients reduce their risk of diabetes and stroke. 
- Patients with Type 2 diabetes improved medication adherence, exercise frequency and glycemic control when they received 6 months of health coaching.
What is the difference between a health coach and life coach?
Health coaches focus specifically on health related-issues with their clients, while life coaches typically focus on a broader range of life factors.
What are your credentials?
I am a Duke Integrative Medicine Trained Integrative Health Coach. Additionally, I completed health coach training in 2013 with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I also hold a Master of Arts in Communication from DePaul University’s School of Communication and a Bachelor or Arts from DePauw University.
I would like to get a feel for how you work with clients. Can I do so without purchasing any sessions?
Yes! I offer an introductory consultation free of charge. We’ll talk about your goals, discuss my approach and determine whether we’re a good fit for working together.
Still have questions? Please contact me directly.
Peckham, C. (2014, April 15). How do physicians spend their time? Medscape.
 Edelman, D., Oddone, E., Liebowitz, R., Yancy, Jr, W., Olsen, M., Jeffreys, A., Moon, S., Harris, A., Smith, L., Quillian-Wolever, R., and Gaudet, T (July 2006). A Multidimensional Integrative Medicine Intervention to Improve Cardiovascular Risk. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21(7), 728–734.
 Wolever RQ, Webber DM, Meunier JP, Greeson JM, Lausier ER, and Gaudet TW (July-August 2011). Modifiable Disease Risk, Readiness to Change, and Psychosocial Functioning Improve with Integrative Medicine Immersion Model. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 17(4), 38-47
 Wolever RQ, Dreusicke M, and Fikkan J, et al. (June 2009). Integrative Health Coaching for Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. A Randomized Clinical Trial. Diabetes Education, 36 (4), 629-639.