The Qualification & Eligibility Requirements of Being a Health Coach versus a Wellness Coach

While Health Coach Certification is recognized as skill attainment and knowledge in the area of evidence-based heath coaching, a lack of consensus still exists regarding the qualifications for testing this credential and what content is appropriate for the credential.  “The NSHC strongly takes the position that health coaching be no less than evidence-based and conducted by licensed/credentialed health care professionals who have the clinical education and training to safely guide patients/clients” (Huffman, 2016, p. 401). However, beyond that general description, there are other qualifications or eligibility requirements that highlight the similarities and differences between Health Coach Certification and being a Wellness Coach.

Qualifications/EligibilityHealth CoachWellness Coach
Pre-Requisite: A professional or clinical license or credential from either a State or National licensing/credentialing bodyX
Pre-Requisite: Licensed/credentialed to assess, plan, treat and/or evaluate treatment/care plans or provide care based on the health and/or behavioral health diagnosis or condition, and safely provide health teaching accordingly.X
Pre-Requisite: an academic degree with a major in a health and/or wellness related fieldX
Provides interventions according to the clinical practice standards and ethics for one's healthcare discipline.X
Clinically trained to teach individuals with active disease and/or chronic conditions, acute illness or medical conditions, and/or moderate to high health risk(s).X
Clinically trained to identify behavioral health issues requiring referral to behavioral health specialist.X
Provides coaching within the boundaries of one's State or National Practice Act or National CertificationXX
Generally requires coach training beyond formal education.XX
Provides health teachingXX



Huffman, M. (2016). Advancing the Practice of Health Coaching: Differentiation from Wellness Coaching. Workplace Health & Safety, 64 (9), p. 400 – 403.

Miller, C. (2014). Health Coaching. Home Healthcare Nurse, 32, 438-439.

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