What is Wellness Coaching?

Wellness coaching is a process that facilitates sustainable behavior change by shining the light on people’s unique skills, strengths, and resources, and helping people transform dreams and desires into achievable goals through effective action.

Wellness coaching draws on the principles and methods of motivational interviewing, positive psychology, solution-focused approaches, the transtheoretical model of change, cognitive-behavioral approaches, structured journaling, and newer approaches, including the work of BJ Fogg, Gollwitzer and Oettingen, Langer, and Dweck. Many of these approaches are part of the US National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.

Who Can Be a Wellness Coach?

Wellness Coaching can be dedicated occupation, but it doesn’t have to be. Anyone in a position to help and influence others can serve as a Wellness Coach by incorporating the science-based tools of wellness coaching into what they already do.

For example, many organizations, such as health clinics and health and fitness organizations include Wellness Coaches on staff. In other cases, individuals who already have positions within an organization cross-train so they can add wellness coaching to their skill sets. These individuals include clinical professionals such as nurses, therapists, and medical assistants; teachers; social service  and public health administrators; and professionals in the helping professions, including massage therapists, yoga teachers, and personal trainers.

Community members also have a role to play. Whether it’s at home, at a faith-based organization, with the scouts, or just family and friends, wellness coaching skills makes people effective, empathic facilitators for sustainable change.

How Does Wellness Coaching Help?

Wellness Coaching helps people define goals that are important to them and uses science-based strategies to achieve those goals. The purpose of wellness coaching is to help people explore their own desires, ability, reasons, and needs for making changes in their lives, and then take action to make and sustain those changes.

It is well established that sustained change comes from within a person. All change is really self change. Imposing solutions on people may deliver some temporary benefit, but sustained change won’t happen unless the person “owns” the process of change.

Rather than teaching, advising, directing, or prescribing what another person should do, Wellness Coaches act as guides to help others forge their own unique path toward greater well-being. This is done through empathic conversation and employing science-based tools and techniques to support the self-change process.

What Role Do Wellness Coaches Play in the Change Process?

Change is a highly individual process. Each person is unique, and change is an ongoing process.

Wellness Coaches use an approach that is person-centered, relationship-focused, and strength-based.

This means that the person being helped is in the driver’s seat making their own decisions about what works and fits for them. It’s relationship-focused because Wellness Coaches are partners in the change process. They become a trusted guide within a collaborative partnership to help people make the changes they want, the changes that achieve the right results for each person and that fit with the person’s values, interests, needs, and preferences. The approach is strengths-based because it focuses on the skills, strengths, and resources a person already has, what they’ve already been able to achieve–no matter how big or small the achievement–and the skills they want to develop. It’s not about blame, deficits, or what went wrong in the past.

Wellness Coaches help people tap into all of their personal assets and build on even the smallest successes because that’s the fuel that nurtures change. When change is done this way, people not only enjoy the benefits of the change, but they develop a rich set of competencies that can help them in other areas of their lives.



What Students Say About IWE’s Certification Program

“I run my class so differently now. Kids are happier and more eager to try new things.”- Elementary school teacher

“I got great tips, like challenging my self-talk. I am planning on using this technique to manage my stress. It will also help at home and with students at school.”  - School nurse

“I used techniques I practiced during teleconferences and was able to have a great talk with my son. First good talk in a long, long time!” - Mom with son in high school

“The substitutions strategy made a huge difference in my running and I’m using it with my patients.” - Nurse

“I learned some very simple ways to help coworkers manage the frequent on-the-job frustrations.” - Service industry staff

“My clients notice that I’m focusing much more on the person (them!) and not only on the physical stuff, which makes them feel much better supported.” - Health and fitness professional

“This course showed me all that I am capable of accomplishing.” - High school senior

US Department of Labor Approved

IWE created the competencies and curriculum for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wellness Coaching Registered Apprenticeship Program.

Participating in IWE’s Wellness Coaching training courses may count toward fulfillment of the Registered Apprenticeship Program requirements.

Department of Labor: Certified Wellness Coach Bulletin and Curriculum