When Your Client has Health Problems…

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We all know what this feels like when a new client presents with health problems.

It comes at us out of the blue at times… a coach meets with a client that throws us a curve.  It may be something we have not had to work with before, or it could be something we know nothing about.  After all, not all coaches will know everything about every condition or situation they encounter.  This is typically – and easily  – mitigated with some research that is then fused with great coaching skills. But coaching clients with health problems requires a unique approach, one that incorporates an understanding of the individual’s medical condition, while also empowering the client to work towards their personal and professional goals. Let’s look at some best practices for coaching clients with health problems.

Relax. It’s All Going to Work Out

First, it is important to remember that you are trained and qualified to help this person in the space you are working with them in. If you are not certified as a health or wellness coach, there are many options available to earn this credential. You can certainly work to understand the client’s medical condition if you do not already have an understanding of their situation. This means having a basic understanding of the client’s diagnosis, as well as any limitations or restrictions that may impact their ability to achieve their goals. This information should be obtained through conversation with the client, as well as any relevant medical professionals.

We also need to place an importance on acknowledgement of the impact of the medical condition on the client’s life. This can include physical limitations, emotional challenges, and practical obstacles. By acknowledging these challenges, the coach can work with the client to develop strategies to overcome them and achieve their goals.

Then we can get busy and work with the client to set realistic goals. This may mean adjusting the pace of progress, or re-evaluating the client’s priorities. The coach should also encourage the client to take a holistic approach to their health, which may include physical activity, diet, and stress management.

We Still Use the Same Delivery. For the Most Part, Anyway

For each client, the coach should work with the client to develop a plan of action that incorporates the client’s medical condition and goals. This can include small, achievable steps, as well as regular check-ins to assess progress and make any necessary adjustments. The coach should also be prepared to modify the plan as needed, based on the client’s progress or changes in their medical condition.

You aren’t expected to be an expert in all areas for all clients. Stay in your scope of practice and refer out when it serves the needs of your client best.

Also important is the need to empower your client to take responsibility for their own health. This can involve educating the client about their condition, as well as encouraging them to be proactive in seeking out medical care and treatment. The coach should also work with the client to identify any negative thought patterns or behaviors that may be impacting their health and well-being. Remember, coaching usually requires the need to build self-esteem and self-confidence. This may be even more salient with a client presenting with a chronic illness or disease.

Like all coaching, working along side clients with health problems requires a personalized approach that takes into account the client’s medical condition and goals. So do not let the dynamics of the situation overwhelm you!  Coaches still plot the same course of basic action; we must work with the client to set realistic goals, develop a plan of action, and empower the client to take responsibility for their own health. By following these best practices, coaches can help the client achieve their personal and professional goals, even in the face of health challenges.

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