Health Coaching is a recent position that is being utilized by doctor offices around the country. Many doctors have realized that their patients are needing more one on one guidance but they are unable to provide this due to their hectic schedule. This is where they have created and utilized health coaches.
Health coaching is extremely beneficial for patients and can help them achieve their health goals. For more information about health coaches and a general overview of the essential role they play in the healthcare field, please see last week’s article linked here.
Health coaches use many different techniques depending on the patient they are working with, but the core values of their methods remain the same. These core values can be broken down into 6 different steps, with each individual step having smaller more detailed steps of their own. These steps can be identified as:
Identifying values and vision
Building a plan for action
Visualizing one’s best self
Creating a plan for resiliency
Step 1: Identify Values
With this step being the first, it is one of the most crucial. When a patient comes to a physician or a health coach, it is usually because they have been recently diagnosed or are unhappy with their current health status. However, this does not mean that the patient is fully ready to accept their condition or understands it fully.
The patient will be asked to write down inventory in the categories of physical, emotional, spiritual, social, recreational, intellectual, and environmental. The purpose of this is so the patient is able to search and reflect on where they’re currently at and where they would like to be.
From here, there are different techniques and models that a coach may use. One being the transtheoretical model, in which the patient will use stages to move through a behavior change.
At this point, the conversation is less about treatment and more about obtaining an awareness of their health risks, experience with a current illness or any symptoms they’re experiencing. The patient is welcome and encouraged to express their emotions openly. The health coach will move through these next 6 steps to help outline the patient’s treatment and see what stage they are at.
1. Precontemplation: the patient does not intend to take action in the foreseeable future
2. Contemplation: intending to start introducing healthy behaviors within the next 6 months
3. Preparation: patients are ready to take action in the next 30 days
4. Action: the patient has recently changed their behavior and intends to keep moving forward
5. Maintenance: the patient has sustained their behavior change for 6 months and intends to maintain the behavior change for more than six months
6. Termination: the patient has grown and is now self-aware of their behaviors and has no desire to return to their previously unhealthy behaviors
As we all know, values are formed starting in early childhood. These values are then later consciously re-evaluated and may change. It is important for the patient to work with the health coach so they properly understand their personal values. This allows the patient to get clarity and build self-awareness to make intelligent decisions and keep a balance in life.
Actually sitting down identifying values might be difficult, as many individuals do not think about them often. If this is the case, the health coach might help by asking questions like:
What is more important in your life: Beyond basic human needs, what must you have in your life to experience fulfillment?
Take this time and consider a meaningful moment: What was happening to you and what values were you honoring?
Consider a time when you were angry or upset: What were you feeling and, if you flip those feelings around, what value is being suppressed?
These questions aid in triggering times that the patient might not have been connecting to values. After the patient has identifies values, the health coach will work with the patient to select between 5-10 of their core values and then rank them in order of importance. From here, the patient is able to evaluate their values and proceed to determining goals.
Step 2: Determine Goals
Once a patient has identified their values, the health coach will shift their focus and have them brainstorm what they would like to focus on in their healing plan. This step is important because it will determine what they specifically want to change or improve. Some patients may feel unsure or are apprehensive, but allowing the patient time to journal or write out everything they want to accomplish, big or small, as well as the known steps or tasks, will help the patient get there.
When determining goals, the health coach will encourage the patient to create goals for multiple areas in their life. Some of these areas may include, health, family, relationships, and recreation. The health coach will encourage the patient’s goals by having them consider the following questions:
What do I want to achieve?
How will I achieve this goal?
Why do I want to reach this goal?
Who will I need to work with to achieve this goal?
What are the conditions and limitations to achieving this goal?
Based on the core areas and goals, the health coach will work with the patient to determine SMART goals. A SMART goal is a goal-setting technique that brings structure and trackability to goals. SMART goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. These create a verifiable trajectory towards a specific objective with clear milestones. By determining SMART goals, it clarifies how and when the goal will be achieved, rather than just stating a desire.
A health coach will help patients turn “I want to lose weight” into ” I want to lose 20 pounds to have more energy to play with my grandchildren. I will do so by exercising four times a week and eating less processed foods, and more fruits and vegetables. I will lose an average of two pounds every week for 10 weeks.”
By doing this, the health coach is working on a goal that immediately interests the patient and puts it into a way that is more attainable. The health coach can help the patient stay encouraged and motivated as they work together to achieve small successes, eventually leading to the patient being more willing to take on bigger challenges.
Using health coaching can be more beneficial than one might originally think. As one can see, they really go deep into one’s life and can help them in ways they might not have planned on originally. In the next article, the steps of building a plan for action and tracking progress and results will be discussed in great detail.
Changing your lifestyle can be difficult and does not happen overnight. Those who work with a coach to reach their goals are more successful and less likely to give up when things get difficult. Coaches are amazing for accountability, advice, health help, goal setting, and organizing expectations in a realistic timeline. Look at it this way: People use a wedding coordinator to help them oragnize food, timelines, expectations, etc. and that is for an event that lasts 1 day. So why are you not using a health coach to help you organize all of these same things for something that will last a lifetime? In addition you’re getting to help decide your future and gain a deeper undestanding of what lies ahead. Investing in yourself is one of the best things you can do for yourself. – Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal and nervous health issues as well as functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or chronic disorders of the musculoskeletal system. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.