What is a Health Coach, a Life Coach and a Wellness Coach?

These are terms we hear all the time and that often get used interchangeably much to the confusion of the consumer who often just wants some help.  Let’s see where the similarities lie and where the differences exist.


Coaching is based on a a conversational style that follows certain principles and uses skills that encourage the client to explore their world and come up with ideas for creating positive change!

Coaching is not about providing the answer, taking on responsibility for the client’s issues – patronising or advising. Good coaches empower people to believe they have what it takes to succeed. They are humble, intuitive and passionate about their work. The models that are used are very similar in all three modalities. We first find out where the change is needed, why it is important to the person, help them explore what’s stopping them from succeeding, brainstorm possible strategies to overcome these obstacles and together design a plan to move forward.  
Sound simple? So why the different titles?


Health Coaches
Let’s start with health coaching. Health coaches come from various backgrounds but all ideally have a qualification in an allied health professional field. They may be nurses, exercise physiologists, physiotherapists, deititians, osteopaths, naturopaths or other health related occupation. They work with people to help them overcome sometimes chronic conditions that have sometimes resulted from lifestyle choices. But not always. Anyone needs help managing an illness or condition that will move them closer to the baseline of health could benefit from a health coach. The role is one of support and the professional knowledge of the coach will often be brought into play. They can be found in many places, but usually medical settings or in corporate environments where people at risk have been identified.  Health Coach training has usually complemented their existing qualifications.
It is important to note that health coaches and wellness coaches use the same skills and principles and the term is simply to let the public know they have additional training in a specific health field.  However, health professionals may well choose to use the term “wellness coach” to describe their services.

Wellness Coaches

Are a new breed of professionals. Just like positive psychology has grown out of a need to help people become happier, not just deal with mental disorders, wellness coaches work with people who may already be at a good point in their lives in some areas, but wish to reach their potential in some way that has yet to be satisfied. “Wellness” is about optimal well being and although it covers all four elements of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual, coaches very often start with the physical which can open the door to better wellness in all other areas.

However, as the demands and complexity  of daily life increase, wellness coaches often find themselves supporting clients in overcoming barriers to change that relate to personal organisation, time management or a multiple of stress related causes. 

Life Coaches
Come from many walks of life. They support people to help them work towards un-achieved goals in all areas of life. It may be career, finance, relationship or any other aspect of their life that they do not feel fulfilled in. Life Coach training is specific to this more generalised approach, however, good coaches have a depth of experience in their personal and professional lives that they will bring to the coach relationship.