A health coach counselor has a background in health, medicine and nutrition. Health coaches take a holistic approach to assisting clients with achieving healthy living. Often, talk therapy is part of coaching to identify why a client may be opting for poor food or lifestyle choices and how to get the client on a healthier path. Health coach counselors are typically physicians, therapists or athletic trainers who work in hospitals, clinics, fitness centers and spas. Before hanging your shingle, you must complete training and receive certification. Certification programs vary in length and delivery, making research imperative.
Select a training and certification program. A wide variety of accredited universities and online programs offer certification, so select your program based on your specific disciplinary field and work schedule. For example, if you are a nurse who works nights in the emergency room, choose a program that offers classes during the day with training geared for health counselors in the nursing field.
Some programs offer courses at a local facility and require an 80 percent attendance. Students can make up courses they miss by listening to them on tape or online. Other programs provide all courses through a manual and DVDs with online tests.
Before being considered for a program, most certification companies and universities require a variety of pre-requisites such as a written description of your job and duties, professional letters of reference and a resume. Ask for a list of specific pre-requisites before applying.
Work on mandatory certification courses. Most programs require up to 10 courses to be completed for certification. Course examples include health coaching fundamentals, health coach skills, the business of health coaching and characteristics of an effective health coach. Certification candidates receive up to 61 class credits and 120 hours of in-field coaching, depending upon program requirements.
Complete course requirements. Programs vary from requiring candidates to pass tests either in class or online to completing term papers and performing in-field counseling. For most programs, each course commands a metric to determine material understanding before the candidate can progress to the next course.
Apply for certification once you've completed training. The accredited training program will issue your certification, which may take a few months once you've completed the program.
The non-refundable certification fee is approximately $250, which is paid up front. If you do not pass training requirements, you can reapply for certification six months later for an additional $50.
Tips & Warnings
- Research the health training and certification program before signing up. Ensure it is accredited and meets your lifestyle and professional needs.
- Communicate with the program administrator throughout training to ensure that questions are answered and confirm that you are on the right track.
- Ask if the program provides a mentor to assist with pacing, training direction and material review. Some remote or online programs provide certification candidates with mentors you can access in person or online.
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