If you’re a hardworking, free spirit who cherishes your downtime, then you likely have an inner struggle to find balance between work and play. And that struggle often manifests itself as a lack of motivation to make healthy habits part of your life. If you’re ready to make a change and feel more like yourself, then you may need a health coach to help guide you. A skilled health coach can provide a compassionate ear to listen to your challenges and goals, offer expert advice on nutrition, fitness and wellness, and use psychology techniques to support you in the process of making long lasting changes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals typically earn a median salary of $61,840 per year. A health coach’s duties are similar to those of a personal trainer or physical therapist, but their scope is broader and includes psychological aspects of behavioral change, such as motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

During sessions with clients, health coaches use a variety of strategies to motivate their clients to reach their goals. For example, they may share stories of their own personal transformation to show that others can accomplish the same health-related goals as them. They also encourage their clients to identify obstacles and develop ways to overcome them.

Health coaches are also trained to assess their clients’ behavioral capabilities. This helps them determine if their client has the capability to execute the behaviors they’re trying to implement. They then set small, achievable goals to help their client build confidence in their ability to execute these new behaviors and maintain accountability for their actions. This approach is inspired by the social learning theory of Albert Bandura, who observed that individuals learn to behave a certain way by watching others do the same and experiencing positive or negative consequences as a result of their behavior.

In addition to working with individual clients, a health coach might also conduct group coaching sessions with multiple people at the same time. These sessions can take place in person, via teleconference or online platforms such as SKYPE or ZOOM. They may focus on a specific topic such as reducing stress levels, managing weight loss, or improving exercise habits.

The qualifications required to become a health coach vary from program to program, but generally include at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as sports psychology and a professional certification from a reputable health coaching organization. Those who are interested in the field should thoroughly research available certification programs to ensure that they’re credible and reputable. For instance, they should look for programs that are accredited by the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches, which was formed in 2016 to establish a unified code of ethics and standards for health coaching.

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