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

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.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Presence and resonance
* The inspiration for the book: The Connoisseur of Time
* How changing your relationship with time supports better coaching and business growth
* How being present creates more satisfying relationships

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.

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 credentialing 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 has 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 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 credentialing 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 a 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 demonstrates 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 on 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 was 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 doesn’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 credentialing system does not specifically assess knowledge of health and wellbeing metrics or the 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 credentialing body, but it performs many of the same functions as 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.


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, and 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#203 The Ultimate Guide to Health Coaching Prices

The Ultimate Guide to Health Coaching Prices

If you are a health coach and want to know how much to charge as a health and wellbeing coach, you’re in the right place. By the end of this episode, you’ll be clear on how to set health coaching prices that you’re comfortable to charge, and that are good value to your clients.

You know what it’s like when you start working as a health and wellness coach. You’re about to launch your business, and you have no idea of what to charge.

You look at all the other coaches out there and see coaches charging wildly different amounts – where do you even start with working out coaching pricing?

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Health Coaching Pricing 101
* Perceived Value
* The Goldilocks Method
* Getting Your Pricing Right

Let’s dive into this very important topic and help you get your pricing right so you can launch your business with confidence and certainty that you’ll find clients who are willing to pay you for your coaching programs and packages.

Health Coaching Pricing 101

There are a few things to consider when it comes to pricing your health coaching services.

Which market are you targeting?

For any service or product, there are pricing ‘norms’ for different markets. In coaching, we could broadly consider four markets:

  1. Corporate
  2. Private niche clients
  3. Healthcare/Integrative Medicine, and
  4. Medical.

I have listed them in this order on purpose – businesses or people with higher disposable income tend to pay more for health coaching services or buy in bigger volume, or both.

In this list, I’ve put corporate clients at the top of the pricing tree as organisations will likely pay more and/or buy more to keep their employees healthy.

Next are private niche clients – those that are not covered under the corporate banner, they tend to have a specific health problem they want to solve and would rather seek support from an independent specialist rather than go to a doctor. Remember, a niche is defined as a group of people with a big problem they will pay to solve, and they generally pay more per session or package compared to people who have fewer big drivers for change.

Next are healthcare/integrative medicine clients. They typically have a big health problem to solve and are seeing multiple professionals to get support, to get to the bottom of things. They’re motivated to pay for a solution that will help them manage their condition but they might also be spreading their available spend across multiple health practitioners.

Finally, there is coaching in a medical setting. People who go to doctors and are referred are more likely to be lower-income earners, possibly less motivated to make a lifestyle change, and/or looking to get Medicare or Private Health rebates (not willing to pay as much as other cohorts).

If we take these four broad markets as a starting point, it’s pretty clear that there are different levels of motivation to buy, the size of problem, and abilities to pay.

Their Demographic and Personality

As a layer over the target market, there is also the type of person you’re dealing with.

Certain demographics have higher disposable income, and they’re the types of personalities who are already spending on other health services like massage, PT, supplements, food delivery services etc. This combination of demographics and personality will more likely spend money on coaching with fewer objections – if they can see the value.

Other people have very little disposable income and may be reluctant or simply unable to pay very much for coaching services. They’d more likely pursue the medical/Medicare route.

And regardless of income, some people are penny pinchers, some people have a victim mentality, and some people value health above all else and will do anything to improve it.

There are a lot of demographic and personality factors that affect someone’s willingness to pay for coaching services, no matter what the price.

Perceived Value and Pricing Psychology

Perceived value is a very important factor in setting pricing for health coaching packages and programs. A potential client’s mindset is that something must be ‘worth the money’ – meaning it must ‘give me the result I want’ and it also ‘must be proven to work’.

People are suspicious of anything that’s too cheap compared to the market rate. Cheap generally means ineffective, inexperienced or unqualified – or that a person doesn’t value or back themselves.

Think about how that affects trust, rapport and relationships!

There’s a saying that goes, ‘Nobody wants free kittens’ which is really saying that there must be something wrong with it if it’s free or very low cost.

People are also wary of anything that’s too expensive. Part of this mindset is that the person thinks about what they stand to lose if they don’t succeed! This is a double-edged sword, because while a higher price implies greater skill, knowledge and specialisation, people who buy health coaching services usually lack confidence in themselves because they’ve failed before – and what if this doesn’t work for them?

What does this mean for you?

It means that as a coach, you need to be very clear on your value proposition – who your program or package is for (the niche), what problem it helps them to solve, how much they might save as a result of doing this program, what they will avoid, and what they will gain.

The value proposition outlines why your program or package is worth the money. Your VP includes:

  • a list of benefits of what they get (not the features)
  • your level of specialisation (niche clarity, lived experience and/or specificity) which conveys “perceived expertise”
  • words that your niche clients commonly use, including ‘feeling words’,
  • clear explanation of your process or system
  • an outline of results (that they want, and including testimonials to back you up)
  • a way of making it easier for them (process, money-back guarantee etc).

The Goldilocks Method of Pricing

I have done a whole episode on the Goldilocks method of pricing and I teach this in Passion to Profit.

It’s basically this:

  • price too low and you’ll feel resentful and half-hearted about servicing your clients, and they won’t take you seriously
  • price too high and you’ll feel scared to ask for the money, and your potential clients might have too many objections
  • price just right, and you and your clients will both think your services are great value for money – and you will both ‘buy in’ wholeheartedly.

So, what do you charge for health coaching? Here’s a pricing guide for health coaches.

Getting Your Pricing Right

The common ways that coaches price their services are as follows. These pricing structures are relevant for both 1:1 coaching and group coaching:

  • hourly or per session rate (fixed period of time or ongoing)
  • price per program (fixed period of time)
  • price per package (fixed period of time)
  • monthly price with fixed number of sessions (e.g. membership style)

I’ll just distinguish between these options so you know what they are.

Single sessions, charged per session or hour, are typically either for an introductory needs assessment (as a one-off) or as ad-hoc sessions. Ad-hoc sessions can be offered after a program or package has finished, or as an up-sell within a membership.

A program is a set number of consecutive sessions, e.g. 8-week program, 12-week program, 6 month program with either weekly, fortnightly or monthly sessions or some combination of these.

A lot of people use the word program and package interchangeably.

I prefer to define a package as a program of some kind for a fixed period but with other value-adds bundled in, for a higher price. For example, you package up a coaching program with 4 PT sessions, a wellbeing journal and water bottle, or some other combination of services, products, ebooks etc. A package might have a more flexible time period within which it can be used.

A monthly membership implies a set monthly fee on an ongoing basis, with a certain number of group coaching sessions, and usually along with some educational or other content housed in an online social media platform, learning platform or shared folder (e.g. Google Drive).

Basically, the more you include, the higher the price.

So, how much does a health coach charge per hour?

A lot of new coaches think about pricing ‘by the hour’ or session because we get used to the idea of ‘hourly rates’ as employees and customers.

A better way to go is value-based pricing, where you sell several sessions of coaching for one price, not based on hourly rates, but based on the value of the outcome to the client.

General health and wellness coaching industry rates are as follows:

These are general guidelines, but you must work out your pricing in terms of:

  1. your income goals,
  2. how niched or specialised you are,
  3. how experienced you are,
  4. what you are comfortable to charge, and
  5. how much proof of success you have.

After all, people are buying results, and the better coach you are and the more proof you have of success, the more likely people will pay you for your coaching services.

The best question to ask yourself is this – ‘If I were a prospective client coming to my own business, would I pay that amount of money for this program to get those types of results?’


There are a lot of factors to consider when working out coaching pricing, and it comes down to a few key areas.

If you want to build a viable business, select a market that will pay enough money for and value the services you want to offer.

Next, decide on what type of service you want to offer.

Finally, make sure you create a compelling value proposition for your services so that both you and your prospective clients feel good about the exchange of value – that is, your services for their 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#200 How to Coach Around Nutrition and Eating Habits

How to Coach Around Nutrition and Eating Habits

I was recently asked, ‘How do you coach around nutrition and eating habits without being an expert’? Today I’ll illustrate a few ways to do this with some examples. 

When Clients Ask You What They Should Eat 

Let’s say a client comes to you and wants to be told what to eat, and whether she should follow a diet plan. 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* When Clients Ask You What They Should Eat
* How to Discuss Portion Sizes
* Coaching for Weight Loss

A good starting point is to ask what the client already knows and acknowledge why that matters to them – what is behind this change in eating and how will that impact their life?  Their answers may reveal some important values that will help them to create a compelling vision. 

Next, you would explore what they know already about healthy eating. Most clients have a reasonable amount of knowledge – just not how to fit it into their busy lives. But if your client doesn’t know much, you might point them to relevant guidelines, or refer them to a professional who is qualified to help.  

The most important thing is that you are not here to educate clients or tell them what to do. Instead, your role is to draw out what your client knows and help them make sense of it, identify any knowledge gaps that require a referral, and otherwise help them to create safe and effective goals to achieve their vision. 

How to Discuss Portion Sizes 

Let’s say your client isn’t clear about portion sizes or serving sizes but sees this as an important part of eating well. How do you tackle that? 

Firstly, there are published guidelines on these aspects that you can share with a client. The way to introduce them is to ask permission – would you be interested in looking at the guidelines on portion sizes and serving sizes? 

In sharing the information, you can ask the client questions that will raise their self-awareness. These might include questions like: 

  • How much of this did you already know? 
  • What surprised you? 
  • What have you learned? 
  • How might you use this information? 
  • What would you like to experiment with? 

There is much to be learnt about healthy eating and there is also a lot of misinformation out there.  Your job is to support your clients as they consider changes they may make, provide well-documented information when required and step in if they are planning to set goals that are unsafe in any way. 

Coaching For Weight Loss 

People might want to change their eating habits and diets for many reasons including to reduce arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, to lower blood pressure, or address a chronic illness like type 2 diabetes or an autoimmune condition, or to boost their energy.  

But a lot of clients who want to change their eating habits are concerned about weight loss, either as a stand-alone concern, or coupled with one of the other aspects.  

So how do you have conversations about plateaus, popular diet trends and supplements? 

The starting point is always about finding out what the client knows already, and what their perception is about this area. 

What do they know about this diet trend or supplement, its safety and efficacy?  

Or in the case of a plateau, what do they know about energy balance? 

What is attractive about the solution they’ve found? 

And what’s behind that? 

Often clients are drawn toward things that seem to offer a quick solution to their challenges. Unpacking conversations can reveal underlying fears, concerns or motivators, and awareness of these can lead a client to reasonably assess whether their thought processes are helpful. 

If there are any remaining concerns or desires to try certain approaches, you can easily refer a client to a doctor or dietician for more specific advice. 

But often, you get the chance to turn the conversation back toward the longer-term goals, the sustainable habits they are doing, how they feel about the habits, and also, basic principles about mindful eating and tuning into natural hunger and satiety signals. 

You may invite a client to watch their thoughts and/or track their responses to food, any ‘rules’ they set around eating, how they feel in social eating settings, what thoughts they are having about other people’s results etc. In doing this self-reflection, the client can learn the valuable skill of critical thinking to help them work out for themselves if they have legitimate concerns or not. 

A little information and some self-reflection can be used to help your clients develop the skill of understanding what their bodies are telling them so that they can self-regulate their behaviour more easily. 

Two key drivers of unhealthy eating habits and weight concerns are stress, and faulty thinking patterns that lead to unhelpful feelings and beliefs. In that sense, while the initial work in weight loss coaching is around more superficial topics like what to eat and how to get organised, the deeper work for lasting change is around the individual’s ability to set boundaries, manage their lives and their emotions.  


Today I shared three examples of how to coach around nutrition. We covered: 

  1. What to do if a client wants to be told what to eat 
  2. How to coach around portion sizes, and 
  3. Coaching for weight loss including popular diets, supplements and other people’s success. 

We’ve only just skimmed the surface of weight loss coaching, but these are three common questions that I have been asked by coaches who want to coach clients around nutrition and eating habits. 

I hope this episode was useful. Please subscribe to my podcast on iTunes and I’d appreciate your rating and feedback if you are enjoying this! 

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

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. 

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

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 of HCANZA Chair Linda Funnell-Milner, whose tireless efforts (supported by the board and leadership team) ensured that everything ran like clockwork. 

The conference kicked off on the evening of Thursday 2 June with a cocktail party, keynote address from Grant Schofield, and 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 in 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 the return to work via insurance company funding. 

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

Sharon demonstrates a commitment to ongoing learning and training, individualises her client programs according to needs, has engaged in many models of delivery and has been active in 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 on 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 practices 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 on 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. 


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.

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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!