Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

Professionalisation of the Industry


Opinion piece, Fiona Cosgrove

As Health and Wellness Coaching becomes better known, we are seeing developments that provide optimism for the growing professionalisation of our industry.  These include:

NBHWC Board certification – although a US-based initiative, it is still the highest standard for a HEALTH AND WELLNESS COACHING to achieve and receive international recognition.  Over 4000 coaches have the letters NBW-HWC after their name including a growing number from Australia.

HCANZA – the formation of an Association that offers a membership to coaches who meet certain standards in their training and background  has gone a long way to giving Health and Wellness Coaches a presence, a voice and a community in Australia and New Zealand.  

Global Wellness Institute – this large international and influential organisation covers all aspects of wellness and has given recent attention to the value of Health and Wellness Coaching and created an initiative with a White Paper to be released shortly. 

These are a few of the encouraging signs that our industry is growing in reputation and credibility but there is work ahead and some things that need to be recognised.

Government regulation?

Firstly, the lack of regulation in the field by government is something that needs to remain as is to prevent onerous restrictions being set by uneducated administrators who do not fully understand the role we play. People who wish to work as Health and Wellness Coaches are best advised to gain the highest training by a private organisation that they trust to teach the skills principles of coaching and not attempt to train people who may wish to work as nutritionists, dietitians or practice “medicine” in any way.  A recent interview by Michael Arloski and Meg Jordan reinforced this viewpoint that HWC support and facilitate behaviour change and our scope of practice is limited to doing just that.  

That does not prevent nutritionists or lifestyle medicine practitioners from learning and using coaching skills. But we need to be very clear what a Health and Wellness Coachiis that the public understands what we do and do not do.  We are not licensed medical or mental health practitioners or healers.  We do not resolve past issues.  We may “facilitate learning” but we are not educators. 

Maintaining the essence of Health and Wellness Coaching

Secondly, with the advent of standards, competencies and credentialing we must be careful that the essence or spirit of coaching does not get lost in highly structured models, and instead remains the flexible, open and intuitive practice that it is. Training programmes need to include a strong emphasis on the personal as well as the professional development of the coach to allow them to gain the complex abilities that coaching at a high level requires.  

To maintain true integrity and authenticity in our work we need to accept that we are on a lifelong journey in the same way as our clients are and that as coaches we need to “passionately pursue” health and wellness for ourselves while allowing our clients to discover and follow their own goals.

What does the future hold?

  • HWC will appear in many different arenas to support varied populations in their health and wellness journeys.  
  • The concept of person-centred care will assist in the medical field recognising the value of a coach to support more traditional expert-led treatment plans.
  • Credentials will continue to grow and training programmes will have to keep pace with the high standards set by the NBHWC who spent ten years in their creation.  These may vary from country to country but the basic principle will remain the same.  Coaching cannot be learnt from a book.
  • Ongoing professional development will include the essential practice of self-reflection by which means new and more mature coaches can continue to question and improve their coaching practice.
  • Conversations with existing organisations that are starting to embrace the niche field of health and wellness coaching will be taken further so collaboration with bodies such as the International Coaching Federation will result in the growth of our field.
  • Supervision of HWC will become a necessary and sought after service with more experienced coaches training and providing support to those who are beginning their journey or who simply need the resources and restorative experience that supervision can bring.

Further reading:

https://nbhwc.org/quarterly-connects/ April 28, 2021 Quarterly Connect: Diving into the NBC-HWC Scope of Practice with Michael Arloski and Meg Jordan
https://hcanza.org
https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/initiatives/wellness-coaching-initiative/
ICF  (2019) – The State of Coaching Supervision Research. 
Jepson, Z. (2016) An Investigation and Analysis of the continuous professional development and coaching supervision needs of newly qualified and experienced coaches:  a small-scale practitioner-based study








WCA leads the way for Australian Health and Wellness Coaches




Last week we received the exciting news that our application to the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) for our Professional Certificate in Health and Wellness Coaching had been approved! And we are proud to be the first international course to receive that approval. 

Our course sits alongside other approved programs delivered at some of the world’s leading Universities and Training schools including University of Arizona - Center for Integrative Medicine and University of Minnesota – Center for Spirituality and Healing and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. To be featured alongside such prestigious schools is something we are extremely proud of as the standards for course approval is extremely high and only those schools that deliver on these world class standards receive this recognition. And we deliver that!

What does this mean to our students?

In essence, graduates of the current Professional Certificate course can choose to work towards sitting the National Board Certification exam and become a “Board Certified” health and wellness coach, the highest qualification internationally for the Health and Wellness Coaching field. 

This is a reasonably rigorous process and there is a stringent criteria for a coach to be eligible to sit the exam which is set by the Board of Medical Examiners.  Once you have completed our Professional Certificate course including the extra learning materials and provide evidence of work experience hours and/or post graduate studies in your examination application, you can to sit, and study for the exam.  

The exam is set by the Board of Medical Examiners in the US, who are independent to NBHWC, and exams are available to sit 2 times a year at an Australian examination centre. 

Why should you become National Board Certified Coach?

Choosing to become Board Certified is ideal for those looking to hold the highest recognised, qualification in our field. While holding this credential is not for everyone, we highly recommend consideration for students who are looking to become career coaches, working within larger health and wellness organisations or bodies that steer health policy.

Whether you wish to work towards this certification is a personal decision - based on your experience and your career intentions. We are not suggesting that you have to follow this path, however, we are delighted to have this available to our graduates if this is the right direction and qualification level for you.

In the US, many employers include Board Certified Health and Wellness Coaches in their selection criteria for high level health sector roles.  In Australia it may take some time for awareness of this new standard, however, you can be guaranteed that holding such a status would set you apart from other applicants.

To find out more about what the requirements are to apply for your Board Certification exam, please click here to download the fact sheet.


If you have completed the Professional Certificate with us prior to 2019 or have completed our Progressive Coach Training Levels 1, 2 and 3 and are interested in becoming a Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, please contact us and we will explain what the further training requirements you may need to undertake in order to receive our NBHWC approved Professional Certificate certification. 



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