Since beginning my Certificate in Health Coaching studies at Georgetown I’ve gotten many questions about it so thought I’d address some of them with a short series of posts. Today I am covering what health coaching is – as defined by Georgetown, why and how I chose this particular program and the core of my studies. In subsequent posts I’ll focus on working with clients followed by the business and future of health coaching. I hope you find these insightful!
Part I – About Georgetown
Without going into all the particulars I made the decision last summer to pursue continuing education in health coaching to compliment my HR background. I’ve been an HR professional for over 17 years and if you’re reading here you know my overall interest in health and wellness. Once I made the decision I began the process of researching programs.
The who’s who of acronyms I found was slightly overwhelming having never heard of half of them. I didn’t want to focus solely on nutrition – which is where a lot of these programs were geared towards – but rather a holistic health approach. My program of choice had to be reputable with some depth to it. Being in higher ed my entire career I was definitely drawn to the bricks and mortar programs so when Georgetown made it’s way into my search I was immediately intrigued.
The Certificate in Health Coaching program is a fairly new program having started in February 2014. It is located within the School of Continuing Studies and is a collaboration between the Georgetown University Medical Center and the Institute for Transformational Leadership. It’s a 6 month long program totaling 127 total hours. That said – it is not inexpensive and runs around $7K for tuition plus books/materials and application fee. For me this was an investment in my future – not a random hobby – so something to consider if cost is a factor for you.
The program is cohort based and I was admitted into Cohort #3 with 13 others. What I truly appreciated is we were from all walks of life and backgrounds. Some were personal trainers, nutritionists, yoga instructors, health educators and corporate leaders.
There were 5 core classes each 2-3 full days in length in addition to Practicum studies. We used a combination of in class learning, self-reflection and journaling, mindfulness activities and peer coaching to learn, study, and provide and give on hand feedback.
- Psychology of Behavior Change: In this course we explored several behavior models and theories and learned more about the science of behavior change. In practice we used Motivational Interviewing techniques as a strategy for exploring and encouraging change, just to name one. I appreciated this being first and understanding the history and science behind and when to utilize several behavioral models.
- Health Coaching Fundamentals: In this course we learned just that – the fundamentals. What health coaching is (partnership) and what it isn’t (counseling, therapy). We talked about it’s relevance in today’s world of health care and continued development of skills related to encouraging positive behavior change.
- Health Coaching Skills I: The first level of skills was so interesting! We worked on developing optimal states of vision and contracting with clients. We focused on current and desired states of health and continued our in class practice in both dyad and triad groups, delving more into health subjects on chronic conditions (ie. smoking cessation), sleep, stress and nutrition.
- Health Coaching Skills II: The second part of skills built on to the concepts introduced in Skills I. We talked more about other serious chronic illnesses (ie. cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases) and we were given additional tools for working with clients beyond the introductory sessions, how to prepare in between sessions and group coaching. We also covered ethics and when to refer to a licensed practitioner. Of note health coaches are not allowed to provide certain types of information so spending significant time on building strong coaching skills is a critical part of this program I appreciated. One example is in most states only RD’s can provide nutritional information, advice or plans.
- Health Coaching Practicum *will cover this in Part II
- The Business of Health Coaching *will cover this in Part III
The term “health coach” is used interchangeably and inconsistently in a lot of areas so it’s important to read the fine print of any program or job description to ensure it is what you want – whether you are pursuing this as a career path or looking for a coach for yourself. There are standards for certification being developed as we speak to help clarify this definition and really help people know what they’re getting or should ask for in a qualified coach. I’ll talk more about that as well as the Practicum work in future posts!
I am so glad to have found the Certificate in Health Coaching program at Georgetown when I did. I learned so much through this curriculum in addition to making a lifetime of new friends and colleagues.
Have you ever considered hiring (or used) a health and wellness coach? What would you look for in a health coach? Anything you want me to address in my next posts?