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E#212 What’s the Difference Between ICF & NBHWC

This episode is about what’s the difference between ICF & NBHWC  

Are you a qualified coach who is wondering how to gain professional credibility and endorsement? You might have been looking at ICF and NBHWC accreditation but aren’t sure which way to go. By the end of this episode, you’ll be clear on the difference between ICF and NBHWC as professional associations, what the process is for getting accredited by either, and perhaps some clarity on which option is better for you.

If you’re a qualified coach of any type, then being a member of a respected industry association gives you professional credibility, visibility and a measure of competence as a coach. There are various professional coaching associations around, and the two most talked-about in health and wellness coaching are ICF – the International Coaching Federation – and the NBHWC – the National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coaching association. Let’s compare the two. 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What is the difference between ICF and NBHWC?
* What is the process for getting accredited by either?
* Which option is better for you?

What is the difference between ICF and NBHWC? 

Let’s start with the International Coaching Federation.  

ICF is a global organisation for coaches and coaching, which has been around since 1995 and has over 50,000 members. ICF aims to advance the coaching profession by defining and upholding coaching ethics, standards, core competencies and professional conduct.  ICF also provides independent certification and a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals. 

ICF members are typically life coaches, executive coaches, leadership coaches and similar.  

Having been around a long time, ICF is well known in Australia and in corporate settings, having at least a PCC qualification helps you get in the door as a coach at executive level.  ICF promotes itself as “the most globally recognised, independent credentialling program for coach practitioners.” 

Now let’s compare the National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coaches association.  

NBHWC is an American-based association that has collaborated with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) in the US, to provide a robust board certification exam that assesses competencies in trained health and wellness coaches. NBHWC defines and upholds health and wellness coaching standards and core competencies at an international level, allowing the profession to advance in all aspects of healthcare and wellness.  NBHWC was developed and endorsed by some of the major players in health and wellness coaching. 

NBHWC been around since 2016 and is linked to the medical and Medicare system in the US – but not elsewhere.  Still, NBHWC is considered by many to be the gold standard of credentialling for health and wellness coaches specifically, and at an international level.  

NBHWC is not as well known in Australia as ICF at the time of writing but is becoming better known as more coach training organisations register as recognised providers with NBHWC and promote this status of their program. 

Aside from advocacy and maintaining standards of training and coaching competency, both associations play key roles in advocating for our professions, creating a community for coaches, and for approving training courses that qualify coaches to sit the respective exams.

What is the process for getting accredited by either? 

ICF Accreditation process 

ICF has recently (early 2022) updated their credentialling exam, process and levels. What I am about to describe covers this new process. 

The ICF accreditation process involves submitting a portfolio of evidence first and an application fee. ICF assesses your application and then decides whether you are eligible to sit a three-hour multiple choice exam which they call a Coach Knowledge Assessment.  

The portfolio of evidence varies according to the level of qualification you are pursuing, but all levels include certain types of information: 

  • Proof that you have successfully completed an ICF-approved course of a certain number of live (real-time) hours and evidence of successful completion*, 
  • A coaching log with certain number of hours depending on the level you are applying for,  
    • At least 75% of hours must be paid hours 
    • At least 25% of hours must have been completed in the 18 months prior to your application 
  • Completion of at least 10 hours of mentoring with an approved ICF mentor, and  
  • Submitting 1 recording of a coaching session and a transcript, which demonstrate you have met the ICF core competencies (this is a different session structure to HWC).  This only applies to PCC or MCC level applications. 

As you go higher up the qualification levels, you need more hours of everything before you can sit the exam. 

The bottom level is Associate Certified Coach or ACC, where you need to show evidence of completing 60 hours of coach-specific education and 100 hours of client coaching experience (e.g. coaching log). 

The middle level is Professional Certified Coach or PCC, where you need to show evidence of completing 125 hours of coach-specific education and 500 hours of client coaching experience. 

The top level is Master Certified Coach or MCC, where you need to show evidence of completing 200 hours of coach-specific education and 2,500 hours of client coaching experience. 

*Note that If you have not completed ICF-approved education, you may choose the portfolio pathway for any of these three levels. This requires you to provide specific details of all the courses you have completed, including continuing education courses and the number of hours related to each core competency. 

For example, I completed the PCC application process. I had completed one ICF-approved course, but to make up the 125 hours of coach specific training, I also provided evidence of four other courses I completed, each showing the curriculum, number of hours on each competency, and learning outcomes. It was a BIG job to do this, but I got through. 

If your application is accepted, you will be notified and invited to sit the exam which can be done online from your home computer. The range of possible scores is 200 – 600, and a passing score is 460 or more. 

I’d recommend about 4 weeks of study for the exam, given that your 10 mentoring sessions and private client coaching should have prepared you adequately, and there are no health metrics that need to be studied and learned. 

Your application and the exam are all entirely accessed by a secure online portal in the ICF website. 

NBHWC Accreditation process 

The NBHWC accreditation process is similar to ICF’s.  

You are required to submit a portfolio of evidence first and an application fee. Then, NBHWC assesses your application and decides whether you are eligible to sit a 4.5 hour multiple choice exam. 

NBHWC lists a calendar that shows exam application periods each year. They have 3 intakes per year at the time of writing. 

Once you have applied you have a window of time to submit a portfolio of evidence and then, if that is accepted, to book in and sit your exam and pay the associated fee. 

The portfolio of evidence includes certain types of information: 

  • Proof that you have successfully completed an NBHWC-approved course of a certain number of live (real-time) hours (e.g. Wellness Coaching Australia’s Professional Certificate course), 
  • A coaching log showing 50 hours of health and wellness coaching sessions  
    • at least 20 minutes long,  
    • at least 75% of the session being coaching and not education,  
    • not including sessions with friends, family or classmates, and 
    • must have been completed AFTER completing your recognised training course. 
  • Submitting evidence of a health-related Bachelor’s degree, or alternatively, that you have completed 4,000 hours of work experience in any field.   

The NBHWC website includes plenty of great resources including a sample coaching log. 

>> Here is a link to the exam study materials and information 

If your application is accepted you will be notified and invited to sit the exam, and will need to find a secure test centre location near you. 

I’d recommend allowing about 12 weeks of study, 2 – 3 hours per week, covering their core competencies and learning the American medical metrics (these are tested). 

Once your exam is completed, you will receive your score about 8 weeks after the closing of the testing window. 

In both cases, the multiple-choice exam asks you to answer questions about specific situations.  

For example, in the NBHWC exam, you might be asked what you would do if your client in their 10th session came in and was lacking motivation to continue. There are also specific questions about US medical metrics. 

In the ICF exam, you might be asked what the best possible or worst possible action might be as a coach if your client presented with low motivation and reluctance to discuss specifics. 

In other words, knowing the theory of coaching isn’t enough – the exams are testing your knowledge of how to implement the skills you’ve learned in real life situations, and related to the stage of change, size of obstacle, scope of practice and ethical considerations. 

This is an overview of the two assessment processes – visit their websites to gain more specific detail of what is involved. 

Which option is better for you? 

The best option depends on your situation. 

For some health and wellness coaches, NBHWC is more relevant as it is more specific to health and wellness coaching and is often desirable or essential for international coaching companies who employ health and wellness coaches (e.g. Noom – though they have an internal training program for this, possibly BetterUp). 

While the general public in Australia don’t recognise NBHWC at this point in time, the credential is becoming better known. Plus, it is more specific to health and wellness coaching and the assessment considers a more specific model around habit change. 

For some health and wellness coaches, ICF is a better fit. This is probably relevant if you want to break into corporate coaching, where ICF is recognised, and PCC is often the minimum standard.  

ICF is more broadly recognised, although the credentialling system does not specifically assess knowledge of health and wellbeing metrics or development of habits. 

Either way, being credentialled by ICF or NBHWC is good for your credibility but possibly involves a whole new suite of qualification courses, time and cost.  

For many coaches starting out, it is better to work with clients and get proof that you can help people to build credibility and trust, before considering a formal credentialling process. 

A Third Option 

There is a third option – joining HCANZA; Health Coaches Australia and New Zealand Association. 

This industry association is not a credentialling body, but it performs many of the same functions and ICF and NBHWC and upholds the standards of ethics and education of those two associations.  

HCANZA provides community and connection in our local area, as well as advocacy for health and wellness coaching professionals and creating visibility and employment in our field.  

HCANZA does not have a lengthy, costly examination process, just a requirement to show successful completion of:  

  • an NBHWC-recognised training program, or  
  • an ICF-recognised training program plus appropriate health and/or lifestyle education.  

Other levels of membership are available if you: 

  • Are an allied health professional with an advanced degree and coaching experience and training 
  • Are a current or prospective student of a health and wellness coaching course, or 
  • Have completed a coaching program with health and lifestyle training meeting the criteria set by NBHWC. 

There are three levels of membership: 

  • Professional membership 
  • Associate membership, and 
  • Student membership. 

To apply for HCANZA membership, you need to provide evidence of training as mentioned above, professional indemnity insurance (or cover note), code of conduct and scope of practice documents, and an online application form and fee. 

Summary

It’s clear that you can bolster your professional standing, credibility and visibility by being credentialed by an industry body such as ICF or NBHWC, or by being a member of an industry association such as HCANZA. 

Any path you take requires you to have completed a certain standard of training by a training provider who teaches and assesses core coaching competencies.  

In the case of NBHWC and HCANZA, evidence of health and lifestyle training is also required. 

For ICF and NBHWC, allow around 4 – 12 weeks of study and evidence preparation. 

If you are new to the industry and not sure where to start, your best option may be to simply join HCANZA, get some practice and experience as a coach, then decide on your future direction before committing to a credentialling process that costs time, energy and money. 

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#198 The Impact and Potential of Health and Wellness Coaching

This episode is about the impact and potential of health and wellness coaching

The recent HCANZA conference showcased some of our leading innovators and impactful coaches, as well as the impact and potential of health and wellness coaching. This article summarises how health and wellness coaching is at the cutting edge of health behaviour change in a variety of contexts, and how huge the opportunity is right now for qualified health and wellness coaches.

The inaugural HCANZA conference on June 2-3, 2022 was an incredible opportunity for like minded graduate and professional health and wellness coaches to come together and learn about opportunities for our profession. The conference was made possible by the incredible work by HCANZA Chair Linda Funnell-Milner, whose tireless efforts (supported by the board and leadership team) ensured that everything ran like clockwork.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* The Award Winners
* The Speakers
* The Networking Opportunities

The conference kicked off on the evening of Thursday 2 June with a cocktail party, a keynote address from Grant Schofield, and an awards ceremony which I was invited to MC.

The Award Winners

Let’s start by recognising the movers and shakers in our industry, in Australia and New Zealand. The awards winners were:

1. Giovanna Stewart: Best Emerging coach of the year

Giovanna is a dietician who is gaining success by combining her dietetic expertise with client-focused coaching skills.

2. Jaala Dyer: Coach of the year in a clinic setting –

Jaala has developed a collaborative and creative platform for the most important chronic disease drivers that many in our communities face, and it is now being shared across the wider community.

3. Karina Morris (WCA graduate): Health & Wellness Coach Advocacy Award

Karina shows dedication in delivering coaching to a truly underserved population within the disability community, showing both courage and leadership to take Health and Wellness Coaching to areas that will make a significant difference to people’s lives. Karina is striving to have Health and Wellness Coaching recognised as a professional service within the NDIS that can be funded under many other parallel funding-based systems.

4. The Change Room (employs WCA graduates): Business Achievement Award

The Change Room has successfully adapted to the challenge of Covid and has created and provided resources for the unprecedented health and wellbeing issues arising in this time both for the individual and for organisations. They have adapted their use of technology to facilitate the ongoing

delivery of their core mission – supporting clients involved with return to work via insurance company funding.

5. Sharon Tomkins: Health & Wellness Coach of the Year

Sharon demonstrates committed to ongoing learning and training, individualises her client programs according to needs, and has engaged in many models of delivery and has been active running community programs. Sharon clearly works collaboratively with other health practitioners and shows leadership in her role of training health coaches.

6. Brad Hulcomb: Outstanding Contribution to Health

Brad is an influencer across multiple layers – medical, coaching and sports – and has impacted many on his journey, from his medical work to his ski instructing to now his health coaching. As the director of the Urgent Care Clinic on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu ski field, he led doctors, nurses and radiographers providing high-quality care in austere environments. He ran medical conferences to provide participants with more than just knowledge, but also focus on their own well-being. He is also a coach trainer with PreKure. He is someone who walks the talk.

As you can see, there are many ways that health and wellness coaches can have an impact, and these are just a few – the top six of over 50 coaches nominated for these inaugural awards.

The Speakers

On Friday, the audience was treated to a jam-packed day with speakers from different realms sharing knowledge and innovation from the coaching front.

Session 1 was about thinking big and exploring the possibilities.

Michael Arloski talked about how important it is to deepen our craft – and he discussed the concept of craftsmanship, which is very close to my own heart. Michael says that in the face of global well-being challenges that our clients face, we can double down by focusing on masterful coaching and staying within our scope of practice. Practice, patience and presence are required to become good at what we do, and focusing on this will help us to deliver incredible value to our clients.

Paul Taylor presented a summary of his new book ‘Death by Comfort’ – why modern life is killing us and what we need to do about it. Paul discussed some of the latest research around the benefits of ‘uncomfortable’ things like exercise, cold therapy and heat therapy, and how they can truly improve quality of life and longevity.

Suzie Carmack talked about creating value as a coach, and about building your personal brand and business with a portfolio career. A portfolio career is the idea of having multiple income streams as a coach, but also organising your days and working in batches to avoid burnout.

Session 2 shared exemplars of partnerships from the field.

We heard from Grant Schofield, Troy Morgan, Dr Sandra Scheinbaum, Bee Pennington and Sam McBride.

The speakers illustrated various ways in which coaches can build and leverage partnerships to build their businesses and have an impact.

One thing was definitely clear – as a coach, we need to engage our target market and build relationships there to truly understand their needs, before going in to ‘sell’ anything. It is truly relationships that give coaching a platform to really shine and make a difference.

Troy Morgan discussed two ways to succeed in corporate – firstly, to develop strong partnerships with all stakeholders, and secondly, to collect data that proves the impact and value of the work you are doing. Those two things can make you indispensable within an organisation.

Sam McBride’s ‘Men’s Muster’ in NZ was a particularly interesting example of how to engage men with the idea of health behaviour change, with a little beer and a lot of engaging outdoor activities.

Session 3 was about breaking business ground.

David Carroll, myself, Philippa Flowerday and Michelle Yandle discussed how coaches can establish thriving businesses in a variety of contexts.

We explored different models that can create income and add value, and discussed coaching success in organisations, workplaces, communities and solo businesses.

Michelle showcased a unique ‘ Empowered Eating’ model that is based in the ancient wisdom of her ancestors, and which is relevant to the issues upstream of eating – family,

A key message is that being specific about the problem that you want to solve, is the best and easiest way to build your business and have an impact.

Session 4, the final session, included speakers who are inspiring best practice and stepping into new specialty fields.

Dr Cam McDonald, Shivaun Conn, Sarah Rusbatch and Fiona Cosgrove talked about cutting-edge research and emerging niches in coaching.

Cam discussed the power of combining coaching and technology, focusing how we are extremely variable in terms of our exercise, nutrition, psychology and medication needs, and how digital metrics can identify and predict the needs of individuals so as to fine-tune their habits and protocols in these areas.

Shivaun talked about trauma-informed care – what it means and how to work with it and manage your own triggers as a coach. She explained the signs of a dysregulated nervous system (stuck ‘on’ or ‘off’) and the language that someone might use in either state, as signs that a coach could use to identify a need for referral or support.

Sarah outlined how (and why) her grey area drinking practice has skyrocketed in the past 14 months and shared the personal story behind her journey to becoming a grey area drinking coach. Her talk hit home with a lot of questions and commendations related to her work.

Fiona Cosgrove discussed her PhD research into the development and care of the health and wellness coach, and the four key areas that changed for coaches themselves during their coach training journey. These are self-knowledge and acceptance, better relationships, professional optimism, and personal health and wellness. Fiona’s was a fitting final session that pulled together the essence of the conference – that Health and Wellness Coaching has important impacts on both coaches and clients in terms of physical, mental and emotional health.

Networking Opportunities

The networking sessions created invaluable connections for all who attended. As the MC on the Thursday evening session, I invited everyone to introduce themselves to someone they hadn’t met before, to forge new connections.

By Friday, the ice was well and truly broken, and everyone was eagerly swapping contact details and sharing ideas in the breaks between speaking sessions. Several people were discussing opportunities to work together or to try the services of someone else. All in all, there was significant cross-pollination and the generation of new ideas.

Summary

The recent HCANZA conference was a huge success. It was an event that bought coaches together, showcased new and innovative research in our field, and highlighted coaches who are breaking ground and having an impact. Further, the conference showed that success is available to all who qualify in this field.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#139 17 Proven, Viable Niches for Health and Wellness Coaches

This episode is about 17 proven, viable niches for health and wellness coaches

If you’re starting a business and you need help to create a solid business blueprint – make sure you book in for a free info session to learn about my Passion to Profit program.

Click the link in the show notes to book.
Being specific about who you want to work with helps you to create more targeted marketing – but you first have to find a viable niche that has a big enough pain point that they will pay to get help. Today, I will discuss 17 proven, viable niches for health and wellness coaches and provide links to those people who are successful so you can see for yourself!

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
*Understanding niches and knowing their basic concepts
* What makes a viable niche and know which is the right one for you

Understanding niches 

People often ask me, will my business succeed? Which niches are most successful for coaches?

Let’s talk about some basic concepts first.

A target market is a set of buyers who have a common need or characteristic.  In health and wellness coaching, target markets might include things like:

  • Weight Loss
  • Strength and fitness
  • Mental health
  • Self-image
  • Specific chronic diseases

Within each of these target markets, you will find various niches.

A niche is a more specific group of people with a specific problem. For example, within the target market of weight loss, there are many different niches.

If you’re thinking of starting a health and wellness coaching business, then you need to understand the concept of who you are targeting so that you can get your marketing messages right, and create services that will truly help a specific cohort of people – your niche. 

What makes a viable niche?

According to internet guru Frank Kern, there are a few traits of a viable niche:

  • A huge number of people with a specific problem 
  • The problem itself is very big and painful 
  • The person is desperate for help – the problem is really important enough that they will pay to get help no matter what
  • You can access people in the niche easily
  • And my additional point – your high chemistry clients are in that niche.

In essence, you can spot a viable niche because the people in that niche have some really strong values behind them – and they have shared values or stories with you. 

They tend to be people who: 

  • Have had a health scare and are afraid of dying or being incapacitated
  • Feel that family is everything and they want to be better role models for their kids
  • Are driven to achieve more at work or perform better in sport
  • Are at a certain age or stage of life and are facing specific decisions
  • Have been diagnosed with a serious health issue
  • Desperately want better relationships
  • Are feeling so sick and low and have had enough.

In other words they have a really HUGE why.

They are also people who value themselves and their health enough to invest in themselves.  Look for people who are already spending disposable income on health-related services like the gym, physio, chiro, massage, acupuncture etc.

Remember that there are different levels of readiness to change and at any given time, the people in YOUR niche may or may not be ready to buy. 

If you’re trying to work out which niche to pursue, then a critical factor is that their why is big enough.

And in terms of the niche containing high-chemistry clients – when you work with the people that light you up and have shared values or stories, then you will wake up excited to go to work every day. 

Now, let’s look at some target markets and niches that have been successful for health and wellness coaches in the past five years.

Target market – weight loss

There are several successful niches within the target market of weight loss.

One of the reasons why weight loss niches are so successful is because it is a very visible, painful, and irritating big problem for a lot of people – and weight is a causal factor in chronic diseases. 

That means it qualifies as something that people take seriously and really want to do something about, for aesthetic reasons, for self-confidence reasons, and for health reasons. 

In other words, there are a lot of drivers and motivators that cause people to want to lose weight and even become desperate to do so.

Not every overweight person is motivated to change though! So within this target market – which types of people are more motivated to change?

Here are a few:

Thinking of these niches, you might link back to some of those drivers I mentioned earlier – the desire for achievement, to look good, to be better for the people around them, and so on.

Also note that different niches might want to focus on changing different sets of habits. 

For example, people in high pressure corporate jobs might be overweight because they are sedentary and drink more alcohol as part of their work culture. 

Some people might be overweight because they overeat or eat sweets to cope with emotions or because they are bored. 

Shift workers may be overweight because of irregular meals, poor sleep and poor food choices.

A final word on these niches: hormonal imbalances, stress or both are almost always implicated in weight gain and are important for most niches in the weight loss sector.

Can you see why weight loss is a target market and not a niche? 

The needs of the people in this market vary greatly depending on their life situation.

Target market – mental health

Much like weight loss, there are multiple niches in the mental health market that are viable for health and wellness coaches.

And similarly, mental health issues can be extremely painful and upsetting so there is motivation to change.

Some viable niches in the mental health market include the following;

Where people are struggling to cope with mental health issues, greater skills sets are often required, but not in all cases.

Health and wellness coaches can legitimately work within their scope in the mental health space by focusing on daily wellbeing habits that build resilience and coping skills.

Target market – self image

You might notice that there is some overlap with these niches and the mental health niches.

I want to talk a little more about confidence here because there are nuances for this one. 

Coaches often say they want to coach around confidence, but it’s important to be very specific here. That’s because most people want to be more confident but only to a point – and may not pay to get help. 

So who IS desperate to become confident and even pay to get help?

Go back to the drivers and values and the answer to that question becomes clear. It comes down to a situation where confidence is holding someone back from succeeding – they may be motivated by achievement, stability or financial reasons, or a combination. 

An entrepreneur launching a business who struggles to show up needs confidence otherwise they can’t be successful.

Someone who wants to do well in their career needs confidence to take the next step to earn more or achieve more.

Someone who has been out of the workforce for a while and wants to get back in may need the confidence to start.

Someone who is sick of feeling ashamed of themselves, and of self-loathing.

Someone who want to live a bigger, better life and are using unhealthy habits.

This market is a little less clear cut than others, but it can still be successful if you can find the right angle and build a supportive community.

Target market – specific chronic diseases

Chronic diseases are an emerging area for coaches, especially at the point of initial diagnosis where change has been thrust upon someone and they are unsure of how to alter their lives to cope with the diagnosis.

Unlike other niches where there is a chance of recovery from the problem, there are many chronic diseases with no cure, and the people in those areas need support to accept their diagnosis and find ways to change habits so they can improve their quality of life.

People tend to be more hopeful of change and motivated to change in the earlier stages of diagnosis, or after they have accepted their condition and that a new way of life is needed.

Some viable niches in the chronic disease market include the following;

I’m sure we will see others emerging in this space.

Coaches who work in these areas often have had their own experience with the disease, and/or work in another profession where they are treating people with this condition.

Summary

Being specific about who you want to work with helps you to create more targeted marketing – but you first have to find a viable niche that has a big enough pain point that they will pay to get help.

Today, I’ve discussed 17 proven, viable niches for health and wellness coaches and a few others that I think have good potential – in four main target markets:

  • Weight loss
  • Mental health
  • Self-image
  • Specific chronic diseases.

If you have a great idea and need help to create a solid business blueprint and turn your idea into a thriving, profitable business –  make sure you book in for a free info session to learn about my Passion to Profit program.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 103: Four Legal Essentials for Business

Are you unclear on how to be legally compliant and protected in your business? 

Today I want to answer some questions that have come in from students in my Passion to Profit business training program and from some of my private business coaching clients, about the legal essentials of business.

I’m sure you’re aware of why it’s important to operate your business in a legally compliant way, so I want to introduce you to some of the basics that you need to have in place to do that.

In this episode I’m going to list four legal essentials for business that you need to be aware of, so that you can operate your business in a safe, professional and compliant way.

Just a note that I previously published an episode on must-have legal agreements for coaching businesses, and you can listen to that episode here.

I am hoping to secure a special podcast guest on this topic in future – stay tuned.

1. Appropriate Insurance

Any practitioner needs insurance that’s appropriate to their profession and level of risk associated with it, which could include the sale of products. 

There are two types of insurance that you normally buy in a package:

  1. Medical Liability / Professional indemnity, and
  2. Public liability.

Let’s talk about the professional indemnity aspect first.

This is designed to protect you if someone sues you for loss, injury, omission or breach of duty from using your health coaching services. 

In partnership with taking out indemnity insurance, it’s essential that you work within your scope of practice and can prove that it’s your intention to work that way and that you actually ARE working within scope.

This is where formal policies and procedures come in. 

Policies state your intention and include statements of your scope of practice and the standards by which you deliver services and/or products. 

Any practitioner needs insurance that’s appropriate to their profession and level of risk associated with it.

Procedures back up your policies by outlining the specific steps you take to ensure safety, quality, privacy etc in your day to day operations. 

Note that policies and procedures are only evidence if you are actually running your business in alignment with them!

Now let’s talk about public liability.

This is designed to protect you if a third party sues you for accidental injury or damage sustained while using your service.

Imagine that you are holding a workshop in your home and someone trips on your extension cord and smashes their nose on the side of a table and needs costly medical attention.

OUCH! 

That person might decide to sue you to cover their medical bills, claiming that you didn’t take due care to provide a safe environment.

Apart from ensuring safety basics for any events or services you deliver, such as putting a slip-proof mat over your cords and tucking them away safely out of reach of people’s feet, it’s essential that you have public liability to cover you in this situation, and many others that fall under the banner of liability.

It’s important to ensure that your policy includes legal defence costs so that you have adequate legal support to defend allegations made against you arising from your Health Coaching advice or business operations.

If you run a coaching business, then I recommend checking out insurance cover via our industry association – Health Coaches Australia and New Zealand Association.

2. Website Disclaimers

Do all Australian websites need a disclaimer?

Your website needs disclaimers to prove that it is fit for purpose and to state the intention of how the information you provide should be used.

Remember that you can’t control how people interpret your words and ideas. 

So if you give opinions or advice, even inadvertently, a reader may decide to sue you because they experienced loss, misfortune or health issues after reading one of your blogs, or buying one of your DIY products, and misinterpreting the application.

Here is a great blog by Legal123 on this topic

They say that “every website contains information, and in most instances there is a specific intention for the information on the website. A disclaimer will help prevent a viewer suing the website and owner for any loss suffered from taking this information and interpreting it in the wrong way.”

3. Complying with Copyright

According to the Australian Copyright Council, copyright is free and exists the moment you create something in material form. There’s a great fact sheet that I’ll link to in the notes.

In other words, the programs, resources and client worksheets that you create automatically have copyright applied.

When it comes to your website, the whole website is not protected but all of the content you create and add to it IS protected by copyright.

And if you decide to quote somebody or use somebody else’s images or words, you need their permission to do that otherwise you are breaching copyright.

So, what about all those great free images that you get from places like Unsplash.com to use in your blogs or on your workbook covers?

Some sites like Unsplash say that you can use images for free, but they do prefer you to attribute authors in your blogs, and they have a couple of conditions on use.

In the design platform Canva, you can access free images and have freedom of use, but there may be conditions on how paid images may be used in a commercial setting.

The takeaway is – if you are using images, text or music that someone else created, you may need permission to use it but you will need to check the terms of use for that item.

In any case, make sure you include a references section with a hyperlink to the source in any published material that draws on others’ work.

4. Client Data Storage Security

Life was easy before the internet. You simply needed a lockable, fireproof filing cabinet and a pledge to keep records safe and secure for 7 years, before archiving them until the 15 year mark at which point you would shred them.

If you operate in the hard copy world, this is still valid.

But if you’re working online in any capacity, you need good digital security.

There are two parts to client digital data storage and security: 

  1. Making sure that clients sessions are stored on a secure cloud platform if using, and 
  2. Ensuring security of your own PC.

Regarding platform security, I want to share this blog that seems to be independent and gives a great comparison guide. It rates OneDrive as the best for security and privacy as compared with Dropbox and Google Drive at the time this podcast was published.

Even if you’re not using the cloud to store client information, you need to ensure that your computer and digital data are secure.

Individual businesses may be less likely targeted/attacked by hackers, but it’s no guarantee.

Two things you can do to beef up your security are:

  1. To share files with clients via a secure upload/transfer program like wetransfer, then move them to your C drive (off the cloud) or a plug-in external drive that you can lock away in a cabinet.
  2. It’s also critical to have a firewall, virus and malware software to reduce or eliminate the issue of hacking. Malwarebytes is a free online, trusted tool for scanning for and eliminating malware.

Summing it Up

Aside from business law, which I’ll discuss in a future podcast, and legal contracts, which I discussed in a previous podcast, there are four essential ways to ensure that your business is legally compliant and protected. They are:

  1. Appropriate insurance, backed up by policies and procedures
  2. Website disclaimers
  3. Complying with copyright, and
  4. Client data storage security

I have included links in the notes that will help you with these areas. I’m not a lawyer but I’ve been in business and around contracts for a long time and have seen things go pear shaped for others – as well as having a couple of near-misses myself and am grateful I’d done the right thing in both cases to protect myself from client misuse.

Putting the necessary legal infrastructure demonstrates that you’re serious about your business and about operating to a high, professional standard. 

Let me be clear – most of your business activities are probably safe, compliant and harmless. 

But I encourage you to safeguard that by putting the necessary legal infrastructure in place to get your business up to an appropriate standard of legal compliance and protection.

Aside from anything, it demonstrates that you’re serious about your business and about operating to a high, professional standard. 

Ready to get savvy about all aspects of your coaching business?

Knowing what to do can make it easy. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 77: Three Ways to Be a More Compassionate Coach

Learn how to be a more compassionate coach so that you can maintain your own emotional and energy in the session, AND help your clients get into more of a creative, optimistic and motivated state.

If you are a coach, especially a new coach, then sooner or later you will learn that your clients will show up in various states of excitement, fatigue and motivation.

Sometimes they’ll come into the session feeling flustered and agitated.

Sometimes they’ll show up serene and calm.

Sometimes they’ll show up stuck, demotivated and negative.

And unless you have a way of facing whatever comes up, you will probably struggle to maintain your own focus, energy and sense of self-confidence in that session.

You might take their emotions personally, or you could start feeling like you need to ‘give them something’ or ‘fix them’ by the end of the session. 

But none of those are true.

What is true is that emotions are contagious.

So when a client shows up in any given state, you need to be present in your own space, resilient, and able to meet them where they are at.

If you want to remain neutral, open, objective and empathetic – to be focused and in the moment, thinking only of the client’s agenda….

…..then you need to know how to show up to the session the right way AND how to handle a client’s negative emotions in your coaching sessions.

This episode explores three ways to be a more compassionate coach, so you can do just that.

Why Emotional Balance Matters

Your emotional state has an enormous impact on your brain’s capacity for learning.

More specifically, if you or your client go into a session feeling frazzled, self-critical, angry, sad, exhausted or frustrated, or any other negative emotion, then it reduces the ability to learn new skills, listen, take in knowledge and remember things.

If you are thinking things like “I’m no good” or “I don’t know what to say – help!” then you will bring your focus to that and be less present, attentive and focused.  

Using self-compassion and compassion are great ways to maintain your own emotional and energy in the session, AND help your clients get into more of a creative, optimistic and motivated state.

If your client is verbalising things like “I’m no good”or “I failed”, then they will bring their focus and attention to what isn’t working and their negative feelings, effectively sapping brain resources and becoming stuck.

Our prefrontal cortex is impaired by negative emotions, and this stifles creativity, cognitive ability, curiosity and strategic thinking.

And unless you manage this properly, you risk being sucked into the vortex of your – or your client’s – emotions!

When I started coaching, I sometimes took on the client’s state at the start of the session. 

Sometimes I took their emotions home with me or expected the worst from some sessions when I had clients who were stuck or overly negative.

This didn’t do me OR the client any favours. 

It distracted me from their agenda. And finally, one day, I had a powerful aha moment after feeling particularly miserable – that these feelings were all about me and how I felt, and I needed to switch into focusing on the client instead!

I needed to develop some strategies to help me get into that ‘all about the client’ headspace so I could truly serve them as a coach.

When you and your client are able to be emotionally neutral or positive, your prefrontal cortex is activated and you are both more ready, willing and able to listen, reflect and learn.

You will be calm and present, mindful and truly hear the needs so you can respond appropriately.

Your client will remember more and be able to come up with more of their own solutions. 

And when a client starts talking about positives and opportunities, it gives you an opportunity to broaden and build those positive emotions so that your client gets more out of the session.

I’m sure you can see why emotional balance matters for both the coach AND the client.

As the coach, your priority is to learn how to manage your own fears, insecurities and inadequacies, and to be able to handle your client’s emotional state, however they show up to the session. 

So let’s talk about how to be a more compassionate coach.

Using self-compassion and compassion are great ways to maintain your own emotional and energy in the session, AND help your clients get into more of a creative, optimistic and motivated state.

Self-Compassion Being Skills – How You Show Up

The first thing you can do to be a more compassionate coach is to show up to each session with a compassionate coaching presence.

The being skills of compassion are warmth, patience, mindfulness, calm and empathy.

Showing up with these skills helps you to be fully present for your client, and to put your own beliefs, judgements and bias aside so you can truly focus on their needs, wants and agenda.

I would like to share the process I use for building self-compassion.

This really helps me to avoid being sucked into my client’s energy and emotions and get into a more compassionate headspace, so I can be present and maintain the client’s agenda.

Here are the FOUR things I do to build and maintain the being skills of self-compassion:

  1. I work with my own coaches for my own personal development
  2. I use a pre-session ritual, and
  3. I intentionally practice my being skills. 
  4. I manage my own emotions through compassionate self-coaching.

I am always banging on about working with a coach, so for now, I just want to talk about the last three of these things.

Let’s start with pre-session rituals. 

1. Pre-Session Rituals

There are LOTS of different things you can do as a pre-session ritual to help you develop the skills of compassion. 

Here are a few ideas:

  • Spend 5 – 10 minutes meditating (e.g. Headspace app)
  • Spend 5 minutes doing a breathing exercise e.g. 4 7 8 breathing exercise
  • Take a short walk in nature, standing upright, striding purposefully and breathing deeply
  • Visualise yourself being present 
  • Listen to calming music

Basically, you are looking for any ritual that quiets the inner voice and brings you into a calm, present state.

What could you do to relax and become present?

What would best suit your learning style?

What equipment, resources or tools would you need?

2. Intentionally Practising The Being Skills of Self-Compassion

Here’s a fact – when you radiate warmth, patience, mindfulness, calm and empathy, then you will show up with compassion AND those feelings will rub off on your clients.

Remember, emotions are contagious!

Your clients will be better equipped to settle down, let go of the past, to accept themselves and to feel self-compassion.

Then, they will be more able to make peace with their challenges and move forward.

If you are self-compassionate, you will be better equipped to help them zoom out of any emotional reactions so they can objectively review events and see things as they are, and start seeing opportunities for change. 

Here’s what I do to intentionally practice the being skills of self-compassion.

  1. At the start of each calendar month, I choose a being skill I would like to focus on.
  2. I write that in my diary.
  3. I find at least one opportunity each day to intentionally practice that skill in a conversation with a friend or family member.
  4. I reflect on that skill before a coaching session and look for opportunities to bring it into the session, to either
  • Help a client move into a neutral place, or
  • To help a client to broaden and build on a positive moment.

This is my personal practice – what would you do to strengthen your being skills?

3. Managing Your Own Thoughts – Being Self-Compassionate

Those of you who know me know that I am a big advocate of self coaching using the Model that Brooke Castillo created.

That is about changing your internal dialogue – to stop catastrophizing, criticising and blaming – so that your self talk becomes more neutral and factual.

I can’t stress enough how important this is. 

The analogy is that you are learning a new language – one that is more empathetic, nurturing and compassionate.

You can learn more about the model at the Life Coach School Podcast.

So the first thing I do to be more self-compassionate is to use the Model to rewire my thoughts.

The second thing I do is to use the tools of self-compassion both as a regular practice and in those moments that I feel emotional pain.

You can learn more about self compassion in episode 76 and you can visit self-compassion.org for some useful tools 

My practice for those more intense emotional moments of suffering is as follows:

  1. I watch my self talk
  2. I catch my inner critic in the act, calling me a name, judging me
  3. I practice self-kindness by replacing my negative thought with something kind – and to do this effectively, I imagine that I’m talking to a friend who felt like this
  4. I remember that other people feel like this. I consider others I know who have suffered.
  5. Then, I bring myself to the present moment by focusing on my breath, or even better, something in nature.

I find that nature helps me to zoom out and get perspective, to feel gratitude and then warmth, and to become calm again.

Summary – Charity Begins at Home

To wrap things up, I ask the question – how can we show up with empathy for our clients, and put judgement aside, if we can’t be compassionate with ourselves?

I truly believe that charity begins at home.

If you want to be a more compassionate coach, then you need to do two things: 

  1. To manage your own emotions and self compassion, and
  2. To show up with compassionate being skills in your coaching sessions with clients.

When you radiate warmth, patience, mindfulness, calm and empathy, then you will show up with compassion AND those feelings will rub off on your clients.

I described my own practice of four things that I do to build self-compassion and compassion:

  1. Working with my own coach
  2. Using pre-session rituals to enhance my being skills for my client’s benefit
  3. Intentionally practicing being skills every month, focusing on one at a time
  4. Managing my own thoughts with self-coaching and self-compassion tools and practices.

If you would like to become more self-compassionate, visit melaniejwhite.com and click the Free Chat page, to enquire about a good fit session with myself or another coach in your area.

Ready to be a more compassionate coach?

Both coaches and clients are better off with compassionate coaching! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 3: What is health and wellness coaching?

What is Health and Wellness Coaching?

I had such a relaxing weekend this last weekend…

I spent a lot of time in the garden, outside, walking on the beach and doing a few chores.
The weather is warming up here finally and although it was really windy, it was so pleasant to be outside.  
One of the things I did was to reflect on how I was spending my weekend in my mind.
You see, I have my own coach and a self-coaching practice of actively working through the challenges, or anxieties or issues that come up. I am so much better at this than I used to be.
So now when I have a weekend, it’s like I immediately enter the cone of silence, like Maxwell Smart used to have, where nothing touches me except the joy of what I am doing and how relaxed I am feeling.

This is only possible for me now because of the coaching I’ve gone through.

That’s what I want to share in this episode – to answer the question ‘what is coaching?’ and how does it work? And at the end, if you’re thinking about getting a coach, I’ve included some tips on how to find the right sort of coach for you.

What is coaching and why do we need it?

We humans live 95% of lives on autopilot – driven by a brain that craves efficiency and automaticity.
 
Our unconscious thinking and doing habits therefore define who we are, how we live, what we do and our state of heatlh.
 
Over time, first world nations have shifted away from the simple things. We have more negative influence than ever before that affect our health and wellbeing – a new era of processed fake food, alcohol, drugs, soft drink, rapid technology, greater expectations and technology…. As a result we suffer from stress, insomnia, emotional reactions and anxiety, and a litany of health issues and chronic diseases, not in the least, overweight and obesity.
 
In short, hundreds of different Stressors have been woven into our automatic habits and they’re making us progressively sicker and unhappier.
As a result, we have an emerging industry that tackles these things head on – coaching.
 
There are lots of different types of coaching and they operate differently in different countries. But their common goal is to get people to change their habits so they can be healthier, happier and live better quality lives.
 
On the surface it sounds simple but It’s a topic worth exploring for those of you who are shopping around for a coach, or, looking for the right coach for you.
 
I will explain where health coaching and health and wellness originated, the different types of coaches and how they differ between countries, and what to look for in a coach.

Health Coaching and it’s counterpart health and wellness coaching, have been longest established in the mainstream in the US at over 20 years, more recently in Australia, around 10 years, and most recently in the UK around 5 years.

As you can see, the different  terminology and definitions can make things confusing and they vary between countries.

But let’s start very simply and say that there are two perspectives on coaching.

There is the kind of coach who is an expert in a specific area, like gut health or nutrition, and who tells you how to do make a change in their specific area. The training courses usually teach nutrition principles (about 85% of the course) with a little bit of coaching methodology – say 15% of the course – and that’s the current state.
So, this type of coaching is pretty much teaching. In the US it’s known as Health Coaching and it’s quite mainstream. They may indoctrinate you into their method or style of doing things, they teach you how to fix a specific problem in a certain way.
Health coaching in the US at least typically involves teaching people way of eating or exercise, or to buy into certain products. This is not always the case, but it’s the common theme.
Then there is the kind of coach who works more with the principles of psychology, who assumes the client is the expert, and makes no suggestions or offers no opinions or judgement at all. 

There is no advice or teaching in this setting, and the method is evidence based (theories and models from psychology, coaching psych, sports psych, positive psych, psychotherapy and life coaching, such as the transtheoretical model of change, CBT, Motivational Interviewing, Appreciative Enquiry).

This second type of coach, assuming the client has all the answers, simply holds the space, asks thought provoking questions and reflects what they hear in a non judgemental way. We support the client to step up and learn to take responsibility for their own thinking and doing habits. We achieve this by inviting the client to examine their own habits, thoughts and beliefs openly and completely, and craft their own experiments around a series of new habits before finally settling on the healthier routine – physical or mental –  that works best for them.
This is commonly called Health and Wellness coaching and it operates similarly in both Australia and the US.
Schools like WellCoaches and Wellness Coaching Australia are at the forefront. And they offer a fairly aligned curriculum that is at least 95% coaching psychology. I liken the philosophy of HWC to Zen Buddhism!

Just to muddy the waters, in Australia there are  people who are trained as health coaches. They have either done the first kind of training base around advice, or, they have done more like the second type of training and work in the medical or nursing sector bringing people up to baseline health. Health Coaching Australia is a reputable organisation that teaches evidence based coaching curriculum in the medical arena.
As you can see, on title alone they sound the same, but as you can hear the roles are very different.

Are you still with me?

One reason for all these differences is that there’s not much in the way of regulation in our industry. That’s set to change. In 2018, an ICHWC formed in the US to create a credentialling system for HWC who must now sit an exam to prove the adequacy of their evidence-based training. A line is being drawn in the sand.
In the US at least, the HWC industry will move toward a having a prerequisite health science or related degree if you want to be a coach.
Australia is not far behind.

What does this mean for someone looking to choose a coach?

If you want someone to tell you what to do, what to eat, how to fix your gut or get any sort of advice or opinion, then a health coach is the better choice.
A good health coach will ask you to make most of the decisions; usually it will be a decision based on their recommendations or choices they offer. They accept your decisions and goals without judgement and with full support.
A less skilled health coach will try to tell you how you should do things and may tell you off or get irritated if you don’t do things the right way.
If you hate being told what to do and wish simply to have an objective observer to facilitate you making your own discoveries and habit changes, a health and wellness coach is the better choice. Look for someone trained by Wellcoaches US or WCA. Full disclosure, I contract to WCA, and I did my training with both schools. They’re the longest established and industry leaders and therefore the logical choice.
If you are in Australia and have a diagnosed disease that requires behaviour change in order to regain baseilne heatlh, look for a health coach qualified by HCA. As the longest standing industry leader they’re the logical choice.
A good health and wellness coach will have a conversation with you basically to help you make up your own mind about what you want, why and how you’ll get it, They accept what you decide without judgement and with full support. They may offer ideas or choices only if asked by the client and with their full permission.
Often a person’s thinking and confidence need to shift before they’re willing and able to stick to their new habits, so goals aren’t necessarily always discussed in a coaching session. A full exploration of strengths and values often comes first, so you can become clear on what’s authentic and most important to you.

A less skilled health and wellness coach will find it hard to resist slipping in a few unsolicited suggestions or recommendations and may try to focus on getting clients to achieve goals (habits) without getting their client to do enough thinking work. It takes time to move past this after all, we all come from a place of being told or taught.

One of the biggest challenges with coaching is that marketing tells us we need to focus on actions – like meal planning, exercise, drinking water etc, yet we don’t have enough motivational buy in or values alignment to do these things ourselves. So we may make change according to what we’re told but it often doesn’t stick.

That comes from psychological theories that we all want to be our own boss and that we are wired to be suspicious of others, so we resist being told what to do. 

This is included in the evidence-based part of HW coaching which suggests that long term change is more likely when you are 100% in charge of it.
There is a fantastic saying that I love which sums this up.
The thing people love most is telling others what to do. The thing people hate most is being told what to do.
To succeed with changing habits, you must be willing to override the inherent wiring of your brain; which is to seek pleasure and avoid pain or discomfort. When you discover your values, reasons and desire to be the best version of yourself and to pursue that no matter what, you will find the more fulfilling, satisfying and authentic life you truly want.
In other words, coaching is for people who have a strong desire to be a better version of themselves and are willing to invest in qualified support to help them get there.
Examples – people who want to swap excess weight for a healthy body and body image. People who want to build a business that’s successful. People who want to manage their minds and emotions to find true happiness. People who want to swap stress for resilience and calm. People who want to feel confident in relationships. People who want to make money, people who want to feel better.
I’ve coached around most of these areas and have seen clients make massive shifts, have some backslides, and move forward again.

Coaching isn’t a magic bullet. 

Yes The results can be great, but I think more valuable is the coaching process That you learn that helps you get back on the wagon quickly and more easily. Life will always throw curve balls which shift you off course. The secret is having the skills to get back on track again. Being told what to do doesn’t necessarily give you those skills.

Interested in being coached?

If you need help with this process, or to learn how to self-coach, click here for more information on my self-coaching membership.

See you there!