Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

Supporting and Upskilling Fitness Professionals during COVID-19


As I finished my last work out at my gym last Monday, I felt so very sad for all the gym owners, personal trainers, instructors and members who were about to lose, hopefully temporarily, their incomes, their interest and for many, their community. As a former club owner and fitness professional I could empathise and only imagine how hard that would be to face.  

How do we fill those gaps?  I can speak from the experience of transitioning from club owner and trainer to Health and Wellness Coach Trainer and Coach (HWC).  

There are challenges for many in today’s current crisis, but I want to focus on two.

Firstly, what do our clients need in this worrying time? We know they still need to continue their fitness program, or as close to it as they can. Technology allows a wonderful opportunity of sharing group workouts and helping people create a way of bringing regular exercise into their new routine, be it at home or outdoors (in a big spacious area). Exercise professionals can help here by providing information and support remotely. But will that be enough?

There will be many people struggling with finances with worry about parents, with fear of the future and this can lead quickly to poor eating, sleeping or movement patterns. Stress can be a big obstacle to healthy living. This is where a Health and Wellness Coach can step in. HWC’S are trained not only in safe guidelines around areas of healthy living but in understanding the need for regular connection and support at the right time, and being skilled in knowing how to have those in depth conversations. 

In the UK there is a move to train health professionals in “Better conversations”.  One website stated that “Better conversations enable people to thrive by feeling more motivated, confident and in control of managing their own health and care.” (https://www.betterconversation.co.uk.). But there is a gap between telling people how to get fit and pushing them to train harder and talking to them about more personal information. Health and Wellness Coaching fills this gap. 

The second need is for exercise professionals to supplement the income that has probably been lost with the closure of their club or gym. There has never been a better time to upskill and learn how to coach people through this enforced lock out while recognising that the complexity of COVID-19 is going to raise many questions and concerns. Sometimes they may just need to talk about these concerns and a trained ear can help them make decisions about actions they take to protect both their physical and mental health. This is where training in Health and Wellness Coaching is so very valuable and can help immediately with little investment in time and money for both the trainer and the client.  


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.

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.

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. 

Coach Profile: Wendy Trevarthen


One of our coaching graduates who is making real headway is Wendy Trevarthen, from Healthy Options Now.

Wendy is a nurse and has since attained several other qualifications to move into the wellness space and enhance her service offering.
Wendy's qualifications:  Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing), Post Graduate Certificate in Cancer Nursing, Certificate 4 Personal Training, Level 3 Wellness Coaching WCA.


What is your business all about?

I enable MidLifers to find their Mojo by gaining clarity around their mindset, nutrition and movement. 
Having worked in nursing for many years, I saw numerous women who were busy at work and supporting others, then reaching midlife and realising that they needed to make more time for their own health and wellbeing.
A lot of changes happen at this stage in life. We question what we want and we start looking ahead to work out how to deal with the health challenges that may come up.
I love working with people in this area as we really ‘get’ each other and I enjoy helping these people to set and achieve goals that boost their physical and mental health.

Getting Started in Business

I had a pre-existing personal training and group fitness business prior to finishing my level 3 coaching course. I entered the level 2 course as a CPD requirement for my Certificate 4 in Fitness, and found it complemented my nursing career so well that I wanted to go on to do Level 3, mid 2017.
While I was doing my Level 3 Coaching, I also completed the Passion to Profit course (WCA), as I wanted to learn more about expanding my business and setting up systems and processes. 
The course was invaluable and I had to review everything that I had done to date. I am still referring to the work done during this course.
I have also now authored my first book “MidLife Mojo. You are 50, Cut the Crap” and have enlisted other business mentors, and networked widely both face to face and online.
After completing Level 3, I got engagement from my existing clients and offered them a 1:1 package following on from their fitness goals. From there word of mouth referrals came through, and I improved my profile through social media, and stayed connected with my local community groups. 
I also joined with local Networking groups, commenced public speaking last year following the publication of my first book, and have recently been interviewed on radio. 
I know compliment my 1:1 session with an 8-week program, which I am looking to move online this year. 

My Niche

MidLifers particularly busy women, (45-60, or biologically equivalent) who are having challenges with their health, or they perceived that their future health may be compromised with the lifestyle they are leading at present. 
I love working with this group, as I relate well with them, and seem to ‘talk’ their language. 
Having survived many of the issues that they are living, they trust me, and open up more easily about themselves. I get a fantastic sense of pride when they achieve their predetermined goals, and also when they accomplish new ones along the way as a by-product of their work.

Start-up Challenges

The main challenge was facing my own fears around being confident with my coaching skills. 
Even though I had been nursing for over 25 years, I found a vast difference to teaching someone about health conditions and treatment to coaching them towards being self-empowered to take control of their own destiny. 
I am a great believer myself in following someone who knows and lives their talk, and for me I have always found it easy to become distracted with my own health goals. Staying accountable for myself has been one of the stumbling blocks that I have had to work through, in order to maintain trust with my clients. 
Going through this process was hard. I felt vulnerable, and also felt that I had to shift this vulnerability emotion into focussing on the client’s pain points, and helping them achieve their goals, and not my own. 
I get great energy from helping others and seeing their successes.  The energy from this experience is what I aim for, to see the clients’ self-confidence soar, and the expressions on their faces when we reflect on their journey and see how far they have come.  

How my business has grown

My business is currently shifting from 1:1 to a mixture of 1:1 and 1:many with online strategies. 
My clients fed back to me that they wanted a more time efficient way of receiving coaching, and within this online world, they suggested to me to move into this reality. So, this is what I am doing at present. 
Exploring the different ways that this can be done is fun, and expands the funnel where location is no longer a restriction. 
I expect this to take a fair bit of preparation work, and my expectations are that I need to convey a point of difference out there to my unique clients. 
I feel that once that this is done, my time freedom will be a greater, and that once it is set up, that it will be relatively straight forward to review and update. 
My clients often achieve far greater outcomes than what they come into the sessions expecting. It’s the confidence, and side health issues that improve as a result. It affects their lives by having a domino effect on their immediate family and close circle of friends. They report that they have a ripple effect of influence around them. 

My 3 big lessons

In the last 4 years I have learned how listen more, to myself, to my clients and to my business mentors and colleagues. 
What I think my clients need does necessarily equate to what their pain points are, and their best journey forward. 
I picked my business name in the beginning as Healthy Options Now, and this has been so appropriate, as it fosters a sense of making healthier options, today, not tomorrow, not next week, but today. I have not needed to change this as it is still relevant. 

Final Thoughts

Wendy is a determined person and I am enjoying seeing Wendy’s success as a result of her consistent online presence.
Like many of our other graduate coaches, Wendy has some traits that have helped her to succeed:

1. Wendy is persistent
Wendy has simply worked out what to do, and consistently showed up to do the work. That applies to everything she’s done, from study, to learning about business, to developing an online presence, to writing her book. Persistence pays; Wendy is becoming known, liked and trusted.

2. She is honest
If you’ve ever spoken with Wendy, you’ll know that she is honest with others and with herself. Honesty is a great trait for an entrepreneur to have; it conveys authenticity and garners respect.

3. She has been willing to ask for help.
At every step of the way, Wendy has sought help to learn how to do certain things in her business and marketing. This has helped her to walk a straight line from graduation to a growing business, without wasting time and energy along the way.

Wendy is an inspiration and an emerging leader in the health and wellness coaching industry.

To learn more about Wendy or connect with her on social media, visit her:

Working with the National Disability Insurance Scheme framework


Are you a certified Health and Wellness Coach who:

  • Has experience with, OR wants to work with, disabled people?
  • Is willing to network with local allied health professionals?
  • Is happy to work for a set hourly rate?
  • Is fairly good at working in a structured and organised way?
If so, there's a good chance that you can be paid to work as a coach within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) framework.
This blog explains how it works, what the fee pre-requisites are, and how to apply.

Overview of NDIS process

Very simply, the NDIS supports people by way of funding if they have a permanent and significant disability that affects their ability to take part in everyday activities.

They may access NDIS funding if they:
  • have a permanent disability that limits participation in everyday activities 
  • are aged less than 65 when they first access the scheme 
  • Are an Australian citizen, live in Australia and hold a permanent visa or hold a Protected Special Category Visa.
Once an application for funding has been lodged, the NDIS: 
  • considers their existing support and how well it’s working (could include family, friend support);
  • looks at the person’s needs and goals, then identifies any gaps in existing services; 
  • works out if existing support networks (family, friends, other) can fill those gaps; and
  • fund reasonable and necessary supports to help the disabled person achieve their goals.
These ‘supports’ (services) being funded by the NDIS can be broad or specific and may include therapies, equipment, home modifications, mobility equipment, taking part in community activities or assistance with employment. 
Once appropriate services are identified, a tailored plan is created for the individual, considering their needs and goals.

Creating a Plan for Funding

Here is an overview of how it works.

The tailored plan is developed by either:
  • the NDIS governing body (either Uniting, St Vincent De Paul) or 
  • a contracted NDIS planner (an individual contractor or an Agency like the Disability Trust). 

  • The services and service providers are approved and allocated by the planner. 
  • Once funding is allocated, the service providers are formally approached by either the disabled individual or their planning coordinator/consultant; 
  • The plan (delivery of services) is implemented by the person, their family and sometimes a support coordinator, and is reviewed and revised annually.

The overarching aim of these plans is that the disabled individual becomes more capable and competent over time and their needs for services change and/or diminish.
Service providers can be registered with NDIS, or not (more on that later).

NDIS Service Categories

Professional services that are covered by the NDIS fall into one of three broad areas:
  • CORE SUPPORTS – which enable the individual to complete activities of daily living and work towards their goals and objectives. 
  • CAPITAL SUPPORTS – an investment such as technology, equipment and home or vehicle modifications, capital costs (e.g. Specialist Disability Accommodation). 
  • CAPACITY BUILDING – includes support that enables a participant to build their independence and skills. 
Health and Wellness Coaches may be eligible to provide services under the specific categories within the Core and Capacity Building areas:
  • Core Supports: 1.04 Assistance with Social and Community Participation
This could include paying for after school care, vacation care or a training course or camp.
  • Capacity Building: 3.07. Coordination of support
This is more of an administrative role, where the service provider helps to coordinate the booking of and interaction with various service providers outlined in the individual’s plan.  
  • Capacity Building: 3.09 Increased Social and Community Participation
This item covers tuition fees, art classes, sports coaching, camps or groups that build a person’s relationship and other skills and independence.
  • Capacity Building: 3.11 Improved relationships 
This item is more for experienced degree-qualified professionals (e.g. psychologists) who work to reduce or eliminate behaviours of concern. There may be an opportunity for Health and Wellness Coaches to help build individual social skills. 
  • Capacity Building: 3.12 Improved health and wellbeing
This includes all activities to support and maintain wellbeing such as personal training, exercise physiology, exercise, health diets and dietetic. Service providers in this category are typically qualified as a personal trainer, exercise physiologist or dietician. 
  • Capacity Building: 3.14 Improved life choices
There are several areas within this category that may be relevant for Health and Wellness Coaches, within Planning and Plan Management (that is, their own NDIS plan), or Therapy Services.
There are many ‘line items’ within each category and the full list is available on the NDIS website.

As you can see, there is no necessity to have a Health-related qualification for some of these items. For example, if you're not a personal trainer or a nutritionist, you can still work with NDIS clients in areas such as community participation, relationships, planning or plan management support and coordinating support.
 

Fund Management and Service Providers

The NDIS funding for a disabled person is managed in one of three ways. It is either:
  • NDIS managed – the NDIS pays service providers, and they must be approved, NDIS-registered providers
  • Agency managed – An NDIS agency like Workability or the Disability Trust pays service providers, and funding is available to either registered NDIS OR unregistered providers
  • Self-managed – the individual, their carer or their family pays service providers, and funding is available to either registered NDIS OR unregistered providers.
In any of these situations, the person who manages and distributes NDIS funding for a disabled person takes responsibility for the individuals choice of provider, according to which services have been approved in the plan. 

The criteria for choosing a service and service provider are that they must be:
  • Safe
  • Allowed within the NDIS framework
  • A competent person and provider
  • They can't be a member of the individual’s family
They may only want to use NDIS-registered providers, or may only want to use providers with specific qualifications or experience.

Pay rates

The pay rate you receive as a NDIS service provider (registered or unregistered) depends on: 
  • whether the client has low, standard or high intensity needs
  • the service category chosen, and 
  • your qualifications.
Pay rates start at $42.79 per hour, and may range up to $92.53 per hour for different services categories and/or working on weekends or public holidays.
Degree-qualified coaches (e.g. exercise physiologists) may earn up to $143 per hour depending on the service.

How Providers Get Work

While you don’t have to register as a provider, it certainly gives you a better chance of being chosen to provide services, because you: 
  • can advertise yourself as a registered provider
  • are eligible for all levels of funding management (from NDIS-managed to personally managed plans).
  • will be listed on the NDIS website as a registered provider. 
Whether approved or not, service providers may be approached by disabled individuals, the NDIS, or a support coordinator or agency to provide services. 

But at the end of the day, the more people in the industry that you know, the more likely you will be chosen to support someone. 

That means your best chance is to get out there and network! 

Find out who your local disability service providers and agencies are, meet them and introduce yourself. Let them know what you can do and how you could provide support in a positive and empowering way.

Considerations

As you can tell, the NDIS is fairly complicated and there is an application process to go through.
There is another consideration, too.

Mental health issues are often a comorbidity with disability. 
It means you may be dealing with individuals in complex situations and with complex needs. You may need to coordinate with other providers and be available at odd hours. 
You would probably need to be fairly clear on the boundaries of your role, and to communicate those boundaries clearly from the beginning.

Application Process

Are you interested in becoming a registered provider?
Click here to learn more and start the application process!



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