Health Coaching Legalities: The “Unregulated” Field of Health Coaching

*This Blog series is intended for educational purposes only and should not take the place of or supersede the advice of an attorney or legal counsel*

As we jump into this legalities blog series, some of you may be thinking it is irrelevant since Health Coaching is an unregulated field. At first glance, you might be right. But, when we dig deeper, it’s very important to note that rules and regulations which govern other aspects of healthcare are applicable to Health Coaching and may directly impact this field.

Also, it is important to note that as this industry continues to experience the current growth boom and may not be subject to direct regulation at this point, it is highly likely that the rules and regulations will catch up eventually. So, it’s good to be on the forefront of this and set up your business with the idea that regulations will be in place in the future.

To understand what the industry might become, it is important to understand where it came from.

After the wellness movements humble beginnings during the ’70’s, the automotive industry was the first to begin implementing employee wellness programs as a way of supporting their workforce and encouraging healthy behaviors. Since then, several industries and countless businesses have followed suit. In the early 2000s, this wellness boom expanded to include the concept of ‘coaching’.

As coaching started to grow, the title ‘Coach’ began to be attached as a title for both professionally licensed and non-licensed people with no formal training. This change has also allowed for the entrance of formal and informal coaching training programs, which may or may not be evidence-based. Many programs would “certify” non-clinical individuals in their programs, while only a few, the National Society of Health Coaches included, limit their certifications to only licensed clinicians.

The important thing to remember is that, while there are no state laws at this time that expressly allow someone to deem themselves a “health coach”, all states have rules and regulations for licensed clinical practice. So, it is incredibly important to understand your state’s regulations before giving the green light to start your own Health Coaching business or adding these services to your existing practice.

Tomorrow we will dig into this particular concept further and fully consider the transparency and scope of services for Health Coaches.

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