Health vs. Wellness Coaching: Background

In 1990, Miller & Rollnick discovered that individuals are the driving force behind health behavior change and that readiness for change is critical. Combining that concept with the wellness movement of the 1970s, more and more people have seen the benefits of “coaching” individuals to maintain health lifestyles.

Meanwhile, the traditional clinician/patient relationship of “do as I instruct you to do” is being replaced by this wellness partnership that allows the patient to be the fully engaged in their treatment plan and process. This level of engagement from patients allows for increased “buy-in” in the process, and sees a resulting increase in health behavior change.

In 2007, the Mayo Clinic implemented health coaching with a segment of their patient base and saw some dramatic numbers as a result. Nearly 50% of patients lost weight AND maintained that weight loss. 64% saw an increase in exercise time and a 61% increase in healthy eating choices. Also, 42% of tobacco users quit at 6 months and 37% remained tobacco free at 12 months! All because of health coaching!

Defined as, “the practice of health education and health promotion within a coaching context to enhance the well-being of individuals and facilitate the achievement of their health-related goals” (Palmer et. al., 2003), health coaching offers an innovative and effective method for clinicians to help their patients reach a state of wellness.

How is this different from wellness coaching? We’ll tell you tomorrow!


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