Does Wellness Coaching Work? In a word, Yes.

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Wellness coaching has become a very popular method and strategy for improving health and well-being, even in the workplace. Still, it remains relatively misunderstood and this is really because of the fact that it is not often studied deeply… until recent times. Most published research evaluates outcomes for specific biometrics or even medical problems – such as cardiovascular diseases and weight management. Other less clinical scenarios involving a Wellness Coach include sleep concerns, stress and of course, physical activity. But most people do not realize that the majority of people will seek wellness coaching for changes to their general lifestyle in order to improve their wellness profile.

In the workplace, Wellness Coaches are immersed among the employee population – be it in a fitness center built specifically for employees, or even attending safety meetings to deliver their message to the masses. Programming for Wellness Coaches is often dedicated to physical activity, so people come in with preconceived notions – that we’re going to measure their weight and encourage them to walk or exercise more. But it is actually so much more than that, even just for the fact that goals will typically change during the wellness coaching process itself. It is transformative for anyone to make change happen with a Certified Wellness Coach.

In one study of 100 employees involved in a 12-week, in-person wellness coaching program, results were very revealing.

The primary purpose of the study was to examine potential improvements in life quality (or QOL). This included physical, social, emotional, cognitive and spiritual functioning; for some it even related to their depression or self-reported stress levels. The secondary goal of the study was to examine the maintenance and staying power of changes to stick over time. Improvements should never be undertaken in a temporary state.

The program itself was made up of 120-minute session to discuss participants’ key strengths (using appreciate inquiry), challenges/obstacles and barriers, as well as their personal goals. To provide data for the secondary goal of the study, the actual strategies used to achieve goals was also a focus among participants. In program follow-up sessions, the participants and coaches discussed strategies made toward the goals and their methods used for sustaining them successfully.

The Good News: There was Improvement in all Areas

Study results demonstrated significant improvements in QOL measures for the 12 weeks in all areas — including the five domains of QOL, depression/mental health symptoms and stress levels.

The number of participants who reported having at least one troubling symptom on a PAR-Q was also reduced in half before the conclusion of the 12 weeks. More important, improvements were reported as “maintained” at a 24-week follow-up.

These results are significant for several reasons. The significant, meaningful improvement in all five domains of QOL has direct effects on the subject both physically and financially. Another is the potential that has been realized for wellness coaching to serve as an integrated support mechanism to manage depression and other non-QOL markers, such as stress-reduction programs.

The popularity of wellness coaching has continued to grow, especially in the workplace. This creates the need for certification and the proper training for coaches increases, too. All wellness coaches should look to receive training and certification from an organization which prepares the coach to build trusting relationships, assess client values and visions, and transform outcome goals into actions and strategies that can both sustain and support lasting change.

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