Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

What does Group Health and Wellness Coaching have to offer?


The growing amount of research on health and wellness coaching, delivered in a person to person setting suggests that coaching can be an effective intervention for many lifestyle related diseases. (Sforzo et al, 2017, 2019). But can health and wellness coaching delivered in a group offer a valuable contribution to the field and if so, what are its strengths and what are the challenges facilitators might face?

The literature on this method of delivery is much less advanced although several papers articulate a similarly positive effect and, in some ways, a format that can potentially benefit the participants in quite unique ways to the one on one conversation most commonly held.

In 2013, Armstrong et al reported on seven programs that used a group coaching approach throughout the United States – either by telephone or in person and using both professional and peer coaches. Results showed a wide range of positive outcomes including a sense of satisfaction and increased self-efficacy, some change in lifestyle behaviours, reduced pain and in one program, gains in facilitator’s listening and goal-setting skills.

In 2019, Yocum and Lawson reported on a workplace group health coaching initiative that involved 8 employees in leadership roles over a five-session program. Outcomes showed “positive change and growth” with reductions in stress, increased self-awareness of self-identity, values and desired goals. Again, facilitators reported similar personal gains.  

A case study followed an integrative group health coaching experience with four participants over four sessions and found that even in this short time period, group members experienced an improved sense of well-being.  (Schultz and Lawson, 2020.)

The above suggests that group health coaching can provide an alternative, lower cost option for client engagement with potentially additional benefits. Out of the reports cited the following strengths were noted for group interventions:

  • Participants experienced a sense of community and great sense of responsibility to follow through on commitments
  • Less isolation
  • Learning from others’ experiences
  • Enhanced creativity  and courage to try something new
  • Authentic communication and support
  • The opportunity to provide streamlined education or information which may be harder to deliver in a one on one setting
  • The use of tools such as mindfulness and other stress reduction strategies delivered in a group setting
  • Personal growth and understanding of facilitators
  • Sense of cohesion
Of course, strengths are also tempered by challenges and some of these included:

  • Logistics of bringing people together and managing their availability
  • Whether the group should be a closed group or open for people to “drop in” (which would work against any cohesion they might have experienced meeting with the same people each session).
  • The need for group guidelines, ideally created by the group members
  • Recognition that group work is not for everyone – some may not feel comfortable sharing and others may be disruptive. The facilitator has to be skilled in managing group dynamics.
What was of interest was that all members joined the program with the aim of improving “well-being” which can sometimes seem an elusive or vague outcome for many.
One program broke down the dimensions into health relationships, security, purpose, community and environment (Schultz and Lawson, 2020.)

In the work-based group, participants developed themes which were improving life/work balance, developing stress management strategies, increasing self-care, focus on healthy living, desire for accountability and lasting change and learning tools to pass on to other staff.

Information on the even group programs showed that the health issues that were targeted included general health and well-being, survivors of stroke, chronic pain, stress, and other chronic medical conditions. (Armstrong et al, 2019.)

Although there is a great need for further research into many various aspects of group coaching programs, these articles suggest that it is definitely a promising way of using the principles of coaching to support positive change.


Armstrong, C., Wolever, R. Q., Manning, L., Elam, R., Moore, M., Frates, E. P., Duskey, H., Anderson, C., Curtis, R. L., Masemer, S., & Lawson, K. (2013). Group Health Coaching: Strengths, Challenges, and Next Steps. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 2(3), 95-102. https://doi.org/10.7453/gahmj.2013.019

Schultz, C. S., Stuckey, C. M., & Lawson, K. (2019). Group health coaching for the underserved: a case report. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 13(1), 3-7. https://doi.org/10.1080/17521882.2019.1656658

Sforzo, G. A., Kaye, M. P., Todorova, I., Harenberg, S., Costello, K., Cobus-Kuo, L., Faber, A., Frates, E., & Moore, M. (2017). Compendium of the Health and Wellness Coaching Literature. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 12(6), 436-447. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827617708562

Sforzo, G. A., Kaye, M. P., Harenberg, S., Costello, K., Cobus-Kuo, L., Rauff, E., Edman, J. S., Frates, E., & Moore, M. (2019). Compendium of Health and Wellness Coaching: 2019 Addendum. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 155982761985048. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827619850489

Yocum, S., & Lawson, K. (2019). Health Coaching Case Report: Optimizing Employee Health and Wellbeing in Organizations. Journal of Values-Based Leadership. https://doi.org/10.22543/0733.122.1266


How to Build a Referral Network with Allied Health Practitioners




Working in an industry where quality and credibility are essential, Health and Wellness Coaches can gain a huge advantage when starting their businesses by networking with allied health practitioners. 

It takes time to build rapport and relationship in allied health, but these specific relationships will help you to build the most meaningful connections.
And if you start building your networks when you start your business, you will more easily build qualified referrals and fill your sales pipeline.

In my local coaching business, I networked extensively with GP’s and involved them in the development of my program approach, and within 2 years was being listed on GP care plans and referred clients on a regular basis.

Let’s take a step back and explore what all this means and involves, so you can start building your own relationships with allied health practitioners.

It Starts with Trust

Even when someone is ready, willing and able to get help with their health and wellbeing, they will generally only buy from someone they know, like and trust.
As a new business owner, you may not yet have that trust and connection, and that’s why a referral network is so important.

Further, consider how much more weight an Allied Health Practitioner’s referral has, compared with a referral from a friend or family member. 
People see medical and health professionals as trustworthy and reliable, and that sentiment transfers to you as a referral partner.

It therefore makes sense to start building Allied Health relationships early on in your business, so you can position your business as credible, professional and reputable.

Referrals Build Referrals

An easy way to get referrals from Allied Health practitioners is to meet and network with them and refer people you know to them. Even if you don’t have any clients, you can become their client, or refer people you know to certain practitioners.

Do this and they will get to know you and will more likely want to reciprocate.

Which local practitioners could you use the service of and refer people to?

Networks Build Collective Knowledge

When you maintain your professional networks and relationships, you enjoy an added benefit of keeping your finger on the pulse with developments in your area, and in the health industry more generally.

For example, I recall a Medicare Local meeting that I attended in my Shire. 

I had the chance to network with Allied Health professionals I knew, meet new practitioners in the area, learn about some of the common problems our sector was facing generally in terms of funding, information sharing gaps and key client issues (some of which I could help with) and, I was able to make a couple of useful contributions to this meeting.

I learned very quickly that these sorts of events were worth attending and helped me to support other practitioners while also building trust in my network and identifying new business opportunities.

In addition, as Allied Health practitioners came to know me better, they understood how I helped people, and could send clients to me that were the right kind of client for my niche with the exact problem I helped to solve.

As they say in marketing, I was getting pre-qualified client referrals who were suited to my program and to my way of working. 

The impact of this was to increase my sales conversion rate such that around 90 - 95% of all enquiries would buy from me.

How to Start Building Your Allied Health Network

Here are five steps to getting started with your Allied Health Network.
1. Get professional business cards printed with contact details and website/social media links (ideally LinkedIn)
2. Develop your professional identity along with a clear, simple elevator pitch-style overview of who you help, what you do, and how you deliver that (see the Coaching Success Accelerator, Unit 1, for a step-by-step process)
3. Visit www.healthdirect.gov.au/Australian-health-services to identify health services in your local area and make a list of those relevant to your services and niche.
4. Decide on how you will approach Allied Health professionals to make contact – for example, would you 
a. send a letter, 
b. phone to request an in person meeting, 
c. book an appointment as a client
d. attend an Allied Health event, or
e. Approach a chronic disease organisation?
5. Start scheduling appointments and reaching out to those professionals to introduce yourself and discuss a referral process that suits you both.  They may have something in place that they use, or you could develop something together.

Summary

Referrals are a great way to start and build your business. 

The credibility and respect attached to Allied Health referrals may be as good or greater than referrals from the general public and, they are likely to be qualified leads.

That means you can convert a higher percentage of enquiries to sales.

Further, you get to keep your finger on the local and industry pulse and help other practitioners, plus identify business opportunities.
What are you waiting for?

It’s time to follow a simple, five-step process to building your referral network so you can general a steady stream of enquiries to fill your programs and sales pipeline.

Is Calm a State, or a Skill?


I had planned to write a blog on the topic of “calm” today but this idea was hijacked by an email that appeared from the Global Wellness Institute confirming that coaching is an emerging “trend” for 2020.  They state that:
“Coaching—which finds its origin in positive psychology, therapy and sport—is not strictly categorized as a “wellness” activity, and yet it contributes to the wellbeing of those who benefit from it. According to Carsten Schermuly, a professor of business psychology, coaching “improves the health of people, wellbeing and work satisfaction, performance and self-regulation.” Randomized control tests suggest that coaching also has a “small but significant calming, balancing and responsibility-enhancing effect on personality.
And, of course, while it’s a concept most applied to career and professional development, all kinds of health and wellness coaches are on the rise, from sleep to nutritional coaches.”

Yes, health and wellness coaching is starting to receive attention around its role yet it is still not fully understood. Sleep and nutrition are only two elements of wellness that we as coaches, support people to improve.  I was delighted to read on to an article in the New York Times that was linked, and in particular, a quote from a Doctor working in paediatrics who wrote:
“Though my clinical training is in paediatric medicine, inspired by what I had read, I recently completed a certificate in health coaching myself. The experience was eye-opening and humbling. I learned new ways of communicating with my patients, specifically ways to encourage them to see their own ability to make lifestyle changes while setting manageable goals. I also learned ways to cheer them on when they reach their goals, without shaming them if they relapse: Both pieces are critical to the process of making sustainable change."

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/07/well/live/new-years-resolutions-health-fitness-coaching.html

I think we should celebrate this acknowledgment of our profession and applaud the GWI and NYT for recognising the importance of our growth!

Check out the GWI’s newly launched Wellness Coaching Initiative here.

NOW AFTER THE EXCITEMENT, BACK TO CALM!

It’s one of those words that can sometimes make us feel chastised. We might associate it with the command to “Calm down”! or even connect it with a non-expression of emotion. Yet somehow we all recognise that without calm, we may be in a place of stress or overwhelm! One of the most common goals of our clients is to deal with life’s pressures so the concept of “calm” becomes very relevant in our conversations with them.  Let’s look at a few key points on the topic.

Question 1:  What does CALM mean to you?

The reality is it means different things to different people in different situations.
Is calm a state or a skill?  It can be both.  As a state, we think of feeling a sense of peace and tranquility. We also know that this is not a permanent state (unless we are hiding under a stone or cocooned in a bubble). Calm can be a skill to cultivate - how we relate to life’s difficulties.  Now this is one that has relevance to our coaching!

Calm is about finding a place to restore ourselves so we can feel good about life.  It does not involve a personality transplant.

First identify what calm means to you:

Is it about being less busy?
Is it about getting rid of anxiety and worry?
Is it simply about stopping your brain from whirring?

Calmness allows a clear head and the ability to cope.  
It’s becoming apparent that the opposite of calm can be chronic stress.  Which we know is a killer – of life goals, life quality and good health.  

Question 2:  What is causing your stress?  Really

Here are four possibilities. 
  • Self doubt
  • Self criticism
  • Over thinking 
  • Perfectionism
Try and separate the source from the effects of stress.  Get to the root of the problem. 
Also be aware that we have come to think of busyness and stress as things to be proud of.  They are part of our ego and identity.  What would we do if we weren’t so busy?  This is a hard one to overcome but with time we can come to understand that being seen a certain way is not as important as enjoying our life on our own terms, not other people’s.

It takes time to change ingrained beliefs. Try and get to the heart of the matter and understand what lies beneath the feeling of overwhelm and anxiety?  What is your fear really about?

Question 3:  What can you do to create more CALM in your life?

Slow down – you can’t hurry calm!

If we word our goal as to “feel more calm” we will struggle to achieve it.   That phrase represents more of a value and perhaps would be included in the “why” part of a vision statement.  The question is “how” are we going to achieve.  What changes and strategies can we create?  Like most things worth working for,  it will not be a quick fix.

A few steps might include:

  1. Identify your stressed habits – become are of how you behave when you are not calm – do you snap at people? Does your voice rise? Become aware.
  2. Train your mind to become calm – practice mindfulness and the first step is to have a mindful understanding of yourself.
  3. Is there something you need to heal that is causing you stress?  Deep-seated buried emotions such as grief can filter into our every day lives and destroy our sense of calm.  
  4. Is your life balanced?  - what gives you joy?  
  5. Reframe – at times, learn to describe your anxiety as excitement.  Same symptoms occur!
  6. Calm your communication – speaking rapidly and flitting from one topic to another increases our sense of stress.  Stop and listen to others.
  7. Learn breathing techniques! This is huge.  We tend to breath incorrectly when we are stressed.  Get your body working right and your mind will probably follow.

Being calm is not about being permanently laid back.  It is about living life to the full, having a sense of meaning and engaging in good health habits!  Sound familiar?


References:  Global Wellness Institute
Greaves, S. (2017) (Editor) Real Calm, Psychologies Magazine

The Language of Connection - Connecting with Wellness Coaching Clients


As a Wellness Coach, our first and foremost aim is to connect with the client. But often it’s quite tricky to define how we actually do this. 

There are many meanings of the word “connect” but some of the less obvious that may resonate with you include “meld with”, “come aboard”, “relate”, “ally” and “unite”. All of these words really describe what we try to do as coaches. Connecting is an extremely important first step – we want to engage the client, gain their trust and create a solid foundation to work from. We know the importance of body language and the human skills of coaching: warmth, zest, calmness and authenticity, but how much difference do the words we choose and how we use them make?    

Here are some reminders of their significance:

Speak slowly, allow pauses.  There is nothing quite so overwhelming as a coach who rattles off observations and questions.  When you slow down, the client slows down.  In a fast-paced world this can be a really restful experience.  

Ask more than tell – come in with curiosity and go where the client wants to go.  If you are curious, your questions will come from the right place and be delivered in an engaging manner.  Clients know when they are being “led” in a certain direction.  Curiosity without judgment reveals interest and suggests caring!

Reflect what they say and know that this can be as effective as any probing question in helping the client connect more deeply to their emotions and to the truth.  Questions are great but they often make the client go into analysis mode, searching for the right answer.  Reflections activate a more emotional response.

Use the same framework as they do.  If a client uses a metaphor that involves physicality, such as “I’m stuck”, don’t respond with, “How does that make you feel (emotion)”, but ask how “they can move forward”, for example.

Never talk over the top of someone.  This would have to be one of the biggest mistakes and often comes from the excitement of sensing something that the coach wants to share with their client or a great idea of their own.  Remember that the client’s own words are much more powerful than anything we can say. 

Creating a connection is an essential element in providing valuable and significant Wellness Coaching experiences to clients, it is a foundation "puzzle" piece. Becoming a Wellness Coach is a career path for those of us who are passionate about supporting individuals in healthy lifestyles and empowering clients to achieve their health and wellness goals. Even the most experienced Wellness Coaches often reflect on the language of connection, and revisit the points above as each client may present a new perspective.

Australian Fire Crisis - How can we help as Coaches?


I am sure this is a question that has crossed many of our minds in the last few weeks and particularly since 2020 has begun.  Instead of a joyful new beginning to the year, so many people are facing devastation, loss and trauma from the terrible fires that are raging in our beautiful country. Our natural response is to offer help. Donations are easy to give and will be put to good and essential use, but is there anything else we can do?

Many of us are too far away to provide comfort or support even though we dearly want to, but  there will be numerous wellness coaches who are in close proximity and contact with those who have lost their homes and their security at random.  But what can we do that will help?  How can we use our professional training to do something to relieve the suffering of those traumatised people?  After all, our training is not in trauma counselling? We do have one thing to offer that can help. The ability to listen.

SOMETIMES PEOPLE JUST NEED TO “BE”

Our goal is primarily to help others move forward towards their desired goals. After events such as have occurred recently, the idea of thinking for the future is simply too hard (although it will be become pressing in the near future). The very first thing people need to do is to process what has happened.  Similar to any loss or grief, step one is to accept it.  I cannot imagine what these people have been through and are still experiencing.  I have never faced the horror of bush fire or lost a home, history and a framework of life. But I do  believe that having someone to talk to about any experience that has hurt us is the most necessary first step to healing. And coaches know how to listen.   So,  let’s offer our training wherever we can as a way of contributing in a small way to the terrible events of the last few weeks. Whether it be face to face, by phone, by email let people know you are there to help in any way you can and one of them is to simply listen – without judgment, without giving advice or reassurance – but with empathy and the aim of letting that person process their experience.

MOVING FORWARD WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT

A wellness coaches' toolbox contains many useful approaches that can help when the time is right.  Positive psychology emphasises a focus on possibilities rather than blame and causation.  Strengths based enquiry will be useful when a person is thinking ahead.  Small steps that are within the capability of the individual can be formulated with the coaches support.  At all times, in any conversation with someone who has been through trauma, we can only follow these essential guidelines:

  • Establish trust and safety
  • Show respect and humility at all times
  • Show empathy and avoid falling into a sympathetic stance
  • Know when help managing stress is within our limits but when distress is so high professional counselling may be required
  • Beware compassion fatigue or “survivor guilt”
  • Let them know your time is for free. (Does that sound ok?)

OUR COMMUNITY

In closing, we are sending all our best wishes to anyone who is reading this who may have been affected by the fires. Know that our thoughts are with you and we are here to lend an ear if needed.  We have been deeply concerned this last week as our much loved team member, Melanie White, has been in the thick of things on the south coast. She is safe but is in a precarious location and knowing Mel, she will be staying to provide support to people who have lost everything.  Stay safe Melanie.

Love to all.  

Fiona

Global Wellness Summit and Wellness Coaching Initiative




In October, I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the Global Wellness Summit in Singapore. This was an exciting event for me and also one I went into with some lack of knowledge of what to expect!  I wasn’t disappointed.  

A big influence on my decision to attend was an invitation to Vice Chair the initiative on Wellness Coaching. In case you are wondering what that means, (as was I) The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) supports a variety of industry Initiatives, furthering the international conversation about wellness in its many and varied forms. Each GWI Initiative is led by an Initiative Chair, who is a renowned thought-leader in his or her particular area of focus. I felt honoured and privileged to be approached to Vice Chair this particular project.  For more information on this take a look at their website:

Global Wellness Institute: Wellness Coaching Initiative

I am in very good company.

Over four days I listened to some incredible sessions presented by leaders in their field who covered the latest in research, thinking, science, and anything related to improving global wellness.  Asia featured prominently due to the location of the summit this year which made it very relevant to Australians who attended due to our close proximity. In prior years it has been held in places like New York, Switzerland, Italy, Morocco, Mexico, Australia and in 2020 the venue will be Tel Aviv (Truly global.). There was a great representation of our country with over 40 attendees who filled the stage for Australia’s photo!

It would be impossible to document everything I learnt and suffice to say the following topics were a few touched on during the four day agenda:

  • Mental Wellness 
  • Wellness retail 
  • Rejuvenation and anti aging
  • How people are aging -  baby boomers
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Wellness in the workplace
  • Solutions for jet lag (!)
  • Asia’s growing place in the wellness industry
  • The business of Purpose (corporate and individual)
  • Epigenetics
  • Sustainability
  • Evolution of the spa and retreat industry 
  • Energy medicine
  • Physical activity trends in the world
  • The role of nature in wellness
  • Value of CBD oil
  • Wellness Tourism

Here are a few random facts that piqued my interest in no particular order:

  • $109b is being spend on Fitness, $230b on sports and active recreation, 29b on Mindful movement
  • Baby boomers describe themselves as more optimistic, personally gratified, idealistic, loyal, driven and able to cope with technological change than either Gen X or Millenials describe themselves.
  • A comment on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – surely mental health should be included as a basic need?
  • Energy medicine – our hearts send more signals to our brains than the brain sends to our hearts (multiple neurons are found in the heart and gut – not just the brain).
  • Getting rid of used textiles creates massive amounts of landfill and are a huge problem to the environment (recycle clothes).
  • Drugs and natural substances exist that have been shown to have anti-aging benefits (metaformin, fisetin, nicoltinamide,  hGH were a few that were mentioned).  Spas will become the plae where rejuvetation procedures will be delivered.
  • 69% of all deaths globally each year are a result of preventable diseases
  • Wellness in the workplace is about culture not programs!
  • Poverty will be decreased enormously – by the education of women
  • Digital and face to face wellness programs will sit side by side. One will not replace the other.  Instead they will cater for different things, but both will meet some need.
  • Amplification of community – social accountability ensures a behaviour becomes a habit
  • If you want to help a community, don’t impose from the outside, enrol the people themselves
  • If we underestimated the power of Asia, consider this.  They have 60% of world population, 50% of world’s middle class, 50% of global GDP by 2040!
  • Some very creative solutions to getting the world moving include: Plaza Dancing in China 100 million people (including the elderly) are dancing choreographed dance in plazas
  • Having open streets (traffic free) in America-Caribbean is driving exercise
  • Australia has the highest life expectancy in the world – at 83.
  • A robotic dog called “Albo” is helping improve the quality of life in aged care homes by engaging the resident and improving the communication of preschool kids.

You might wonder what all this fascinating information had to do with my profession and background?! I was lucky enough to host a table on Wellness coaching and enjoyed some interactive discussions with a group of people who chose to attend. Throughout the summit, I recognised multiple opportunities for wellness coaching to support projects and yet also realised that there is still a lot of misinformation about our work (Several times the term was used in conjunction with the word “advice”.)  Yet we are getting the attention that our work deserves. By staying in touch with wonderful organisations such as the GWI, I can only hope that we will gain traction and credibility and people will come to understand exactly what we do. The journey continues!

The Australian attendees at the 2019 Global Wellness Summit

*Photo Credits: The Global Wellness Institute; Global Wellness Summit and Fiona Cosgrove.

Does Health and Wellness Coaching Benefit the Client, the Coach or both?



The aim of our training programs is ultimately to produce coaches who can support others in creating lifestyle behaviour change.  Yet we are finding that the process of learning to coach in health and wellness areas is helping the trainees as individuals to optimise their own health and wellbeing!

How does this happen?

Firstly, people choose to attend our training for many reasons. The main ones are:

  • To add to their existing skillset and become more effective in supporting their clients
  • To explore possibilities of a new career, either as a new business enterprise or as an additional offering to their existing profession
  • To learn more about how to improve their own health and wellness using the coaching model. (Think Coach yourself to Wellness book, by the writer!)

The question that intrigues me is whether a coach needs to go on their own journey before they can become an effective coach for others.  Now we do not mean to imply that coaches need to have their wellbeing in perfect order before supporting others, but to be familiar with the process and model we use and be willing to engage in the self-reflection that is part and parcel of creating meaningful and lasting change. Is this a pre-requisite? We are beginning to think that it is. A quote that has stayed with me was one by Tribole (2015) when referring to dietetic students who she believed ‘can’t take a client any further than they have come themselves because they will subconsciously put up blinders’.  I have a sense that this may also have great relevance to our work.

Margaret Moore writes about “primary capacities for human thriving”. (2018). This follows her view that coaches need to be continually looking for new opportunities to “upgrade their own wellbeing”.   

These capacities include the ability to:

  • Regulate our body’s signals  and maintain “body intelligence”
  • Create a life that is aligned with our own values and driven by the need to live by them
  • Have a sense of higher purpose in and around (and above) what we do
  • Relate to others and enjoy close relationships
  • Feel confident and competent in life generally
  • Seek out new experiences and experience curiousity for our world
  • Unleash our creativity whenever we can
Would we doubt that these are desirable qualities and things to strive for?  I don’t think so.  So, when we think of the value of health and wellness coach training, let’s remember that it has a double benefit and even if you never want to coach another person, the benefits from learning the model for change can be personally significant!

References:  
Tribole. E.  (2015)  Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works
Moore, M. (2018). Coaching Psychology Manual

How do we define success?


















This is not a new question and I am sure not the first time I have written about it, but it is such a significant area to explore that I feel it is worthy of re-visiting and reviewing our responses.  Answering the question will help us get a greater understanding of our client’s goals, aspirations and sense of achievement.  Like so many aspects of health and wellness coaching, as coaches we have to ask the question of ourselves to provide the most meaningful support for our clients.

There are many different factors that influence whether a person feels “successful” in life.
Let’s consider the external factors.  We live in a world where relativity is a fact of life - the inevitable tendency to compare helps us define normal, exceptional and perhaps just plain “odd”.  “We are wired for comparison” according to Mark Manson.  Success and failure are somewhere different concepts but both frequently influenced by what others think.

Common ways of measuring success:

Financial – many people feel that success is only theirs when they hit their financial goals.  Money is extremely important to them and they spend much of their life working towards that notion of “success”.  Whether this healthy or not is irrelevant – it just is what they do and how they feel. It may come from parental values, from a fear of not having enough or any one of a multitude of reasons from their past.  Interestingly, people who value money often report that they never feel financially sound and they are often striving for more to achieve that end.

Status – this is all about how other people see us.  Status cannot exist without there being a hierarcy.. Someone has to be below us to feel successful in this realm.

Accumulation – plain gathering of “more” drives many people and the sheer fact that they own an abundance of things makes them feel successful.  But do they ever stop the need to acquire?  Will there always be an empty void which can only be further acquisition?

The satisfaction that we get from achieving a goal  – or not?

“Society values success and there is a competitive edge to most aspects of our world” writes Chris Skellett when he describes why people can lean too much towards an achievement orientation.

Yet it is really useful to remember something about goals.  The pleasure we get when we succeed at an important goal can be quite short-lived.  We call this “post goal attainment positive affect”.  However, when we are working towards a goal, the steps along the way often provide “pre-goal attainment positive affect.  The reality is most pleasure is felt along the way – hence the term “the progress principle”.

But how does this all fit into our definition of success?

Define success internally, not externally
This phrase had a powerful impact on me.  It reminded me that so very often we define success based on what other people think.  (see all the above examples listed above.) If we can shift our measuring stick to one of internal values, we may well be on to something that can reduce stress, anxiety and the feeling of being continually deficient in our lives.

When we ask ourselves certain questions such as the following, we can get closer to refining the way we look at success in our own lives.
“Would you rather be well off and work in a job you hate, or have a lower income and work in a job you love?’
Would you rather be famous and influential for something that has little importance, or be anonymous and working on something that could make a difference to the world?”

When we truly define what is important to us, only then can we decide whether we are successful or not. Stand back and take a look at your life and decide whether there are days when you feel you are failing and ask whose measuring stick you are using?  Do you see yourself as successful in other ways?  Once we have this self knowledge only then can we support our clients identifying their ways of measuring success.

References:
Jonhathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis
Mark Manson,https://markmanson.net/5-mindsets-that-create-success
Chris Skellett, When Happiness is not enough

Personal and Professional Development for Health and Wellness Coaches


When you work as a coach, it’s important that you walk your talk, stay abreast of industry changes, and maintain your currency professional skills.
Your commitment to ongoing personal and professional development shows your commitment to self-improvement, professionalism and professional integrity.Let’s look at some options for personal and professional development.

Personal Development for Coaches

Four main strategies for personal development include:

1. Hiring your own coach
Hiring your own coach means improving your physical or mental habits to further your own personal growth, to deal with change in a healthy way, and/or to achieve new goals.
It also demonstrates that you believe in what you do enough that you’d also buy it yourself.

2. Self-coaching
Self-coaching could include post-session reflections, using thought models, talking to yourself or journaling as part of a pro-active routine. Being proactive with these habits means we are being role models for our clients.

3. Ongoing learning
Coaches are professional communicators, so it makes sense to learn or polish up personal skills that help us to become better communicators.

4. Mentoring
Conversations with mentors can help you to gain wisdom and perspective by learning from someone who has done or is doing what you seek to achieve.

Professional Development for Coaches

Industry bodies are organisations that aim to advance a specific profession by providing guidelines, standards and recognition of a professional’s education and experience. 
While not a formal requirement, Health and Wellness Coaches may choose to be credentialed by either the National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coaches (NBCHWC) or the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Whether or not you have membership with an industry body, ongoing education demonstrates your commitment to your profession and your clients.
Coaches who are certified with NBCHWC or ICF must commit to the following professional development requirements; these requirements provide a good guideline around ongoing education needs for non-certified coaches. 

National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coaches
Coaches who have NBCHWC credentialing are required to re-certify every 3 years by completing 36 hours of continuing education related to health and wellness coaching. 

International Coaching Federation (ICF)
Coaches who have ICF credentialing have specific requirements depending on the level of credentialing they hold. 

For the Associate Certified Coach (ACC) (the basic level), the requirements are:
Receiving 10 hours of Mentor Coaching over a minimum of three months
At least 40 hours of Continuing Coach Education (CCE) completed in the three years since the initial award of your credential or since your last credential renewal
Mentoring involves coaching with feedback in a safe and collaborative way, to identify strengths and areas for improvement. It is highly recommended for coaches who have no means of obtaining feedback on their coaching skills and techniques.

Summary

If you work the field of personal development, then it’s essential that you walk your talk. 

Ongoing personal and professional demonstrate your commitment to your craft, your desire to grow as a person and a coach, and a means of maintaining currency and standards in the industry. 
A weekly personal routine is a mainstay for health and wellness coaches. Professionally, 10 - 15 hours of formal training plus additional mentoring (3 – 5 hours) per year is a valuable for increasing a coach’s capacity and skill. 


Hope and Optimism - a question of degrees of possibility


As health and wellness coaches we are trained to work with principles of positive psychology and understand the role of optimism in a happy and fulfilling life. I have recently started reading the second publication by Mark Manson, which has the bye line of A Book About Hope (the main title has a profanity which may offend some)!  Personally, I really enjoy this author’s work. He certainly tells it like it is, or let’s say how he sees it!

This book has already got me thinking about the notion of “hope” and its role in society today, or perhaps the lack of it in many cases. One of the distinguishing characteristics, or precursors to depression is the inability to believe that “things will turn out ok”, whatever those things might be – in other words, life for these people seems “hopeless”.  

In a world where everyone seems to be seeking happiness as a holy grail, we need to accept that the opposite of happiness is hopelessness and that as Manson so aptly puts it “Hopelessness is the root of anxiety, mental illness and depression – the source of all misery and the cause of addiction”. In order to have hope in our lives, we need three things:
  • A sense of control
  • A believe in the value of something, and
  • A community
I think that health and wellness coaching can go a long way to supporting people in these areas. 

I started to reflect on the difference between optimism and hope – what makes them different and I put it down to a case of degrees. If I am optimistic about the future, I believe “things should turn out well”. If I am hopeful, I believe that “things could turn out well”. There is a subtle difference between those statements that centres on confidence.
We have a tendency to push people towards optimism. “You can do it”, “I believe in you” – affirmative declarations of support. However, when someone has no or little hope, this may be too big a step to take.  And this is where our understanding of where a client sits in their belief in a positive future is crucial and our language perhaps modified accordingly. We might want our clients to be able to say… “Things could turn out ok”, which might be a shift for them. If they can believe it could be possible if not necessarily probable, then the existence of hope is ignited. 
Mental health is a complex area and the incidence of people struggling with it is on the rise. Coaches work with behaviours, cognitions, beliefs and values and it is essential that we monitor where our clients sit on the “possibility” scale! Or perhaps we should call it the continuum between hopeless to hopeful. And work with them accordingly. 



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