‘Wellbeing’ or ‘Wellness’ – What’s in a Word?

Recent debate has arisen around the best description of what we, as Health and Wellness Coaches do. Do we coach people towards wellbeing goals? I would say, “Most definitely”.

The suggestion is that the term “wellbeing” is bigger and broader than “wellness” which may have a closer relationship to physical health. So, Wellbeing and Wellness – What’s in a Word?
Wellbeing encompasses happiness, contentment, success and fulfilment in life. Yet the American Psychological Association defines wellness as “a dynamic state of well-being”. That leaves room for confusion.

In the US they have decided that Coaches would be given rebates under the category of health and wellbeing and this has prompted at least one bigger training provider to change their program description to Health and Wellbeing Coach.

Although I understand the rationale behind this (get in line with the funding), I believe that it has taken us so long to establish an industry with a name that is, in most circles, accepted and used by the leading organisations.

Health and Wellness Coach is a term that is gaining recognition and credibility. To make a change at this stage when we are just establishing ourselves as a profession, seems like a sure way of confusing the public and taking steps backwards. Surely we can convince the powers that be (and provide funding) that Health and Wellness Coaches coach people to achieve lifestyle, health and wellbeing goals.

I feel like we should stick to a name that has been recognised and indeed had investment by many who may not be so happy to make changes across their entire organisation, marketing material, branding and even public image.
Namely “National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching”, “Global Wellness Institute” and “Wellness Coaching Australia” to mention a few. The Wellness Industry exists and if you wish to enter into debate between what constitutes wellness and wellbeing there is a vast amount of literature that can be pursued at leisure.

Time will tell whether this change becomes important enough to disrupt the work that has been done.

Fiona Cosgrove
Founder and Managing Director of Wellness Coaching Australia