Taking the leap to become a holistic health coach can seem intimidating—especially if you’re leaving the stability of a 9-5 job.
Whether you’re just starting to consider the possibility of health coaching or you’ve already received your certification, there are a few things you should know before jumping in. In honor of our 25th anniversary, we’ve put together 25 things you need to know about becoming a holistic health coach.
1. It’s not only about nutrition
While nutrition is an important factor in holistic health coaching, it’s not the whole (veggie) enchilada. Instead, your job will be to take mind, body, and spirit into consideration when working with clients. This can mean anything from meal planning to meditation practice.
2. There are prerequisites
Keep in mind that you must be at least 18 years of age and have your high school diploma, GED or equivalent in order to become a certified holistic health coach through AFPA.
3. You can hail from any professional background
You don’t need to be a doctor or even a health professional to become a holistic health coach. From yoga instructors to business professionals, anyone can find success in the industry; it all comes down to the determination to learn, teach and grow.
4. You need an entrepreneurial spirit
Making a career out of holistic health coaching is not for the faint of heart. It requires a strong will and determination to succeed. Much of your career will be predicated on your ability to sell yourself and your services to people who may not even know they need them yet. It takes a passionate entrepreneur to attract clients and build a portfolio.
5. It takes strong communication skills
As with most entrepreneurial positions, you must be an excellent communicator in order to excel in this space. From in-person interactions with clients to digital correspondence, you must ensure that clients maintain a clear understanding of your recommendations, reasoning, and boundaries. By prioritizing clarity, you’ll keep your clients (and yourself) happy.
6. You can go your own way
Whether you want to start your own business or work for an established wellness center, you can take your career in many different directions. There are places for holistic health coaches at physicians’ offices, spas, schools, corporations and more.
7. You’ll be more likely to adopt healthy habits
Something about learning the dangers of processed meat and excess sugar makes you want to be a better person. As you teach the benefits of holistic health, you’re likely to catch on to some of your own advice.
8. You’ll always be a student
The learning doesn’t stop once you become a certified coach. Science is always revealing new and improved ways to nourish both the mind and body. By keeping up with the latest in holistic health research, you’ll be able to provide your clients with the best experience possible.
9. You’ll also be a teacher
While part of your job is continuing education, the other part is teaching. It’s important that your clients know why you’re recommending specific foods, physical activities or sleep schedules. Arming them with this knowledge will boost their confidence in you as a coach and make them more likely to follow through with their programs.
10. One size does not fit all
Never forget that what works for one client may be a detriment to another (and vice versa). You must approach each client with a fresh mindset and avoid preconceived notions. Only by getting to know the client individually will you be able to architect a program that works for their needs.
11. Mental health is part of the package
From aging gracefully to maintaining healthy relationships, the mental aspect of holistic health is just as important as the physical. Science shows a strong correlation between mind and body, with mental stress contributing to an unsettling number of illnesses. Keeping your clients mentally nourished will help them to thrive physically.
12. It’s about prevention, not prescription
Holistic health is about taking the measures to prevent disease, rather than treat it. The idea is that taking care of mind, body, and soul will help people to avoid the illnesses that often accompany poor diet, stress, lack of sleep, and so on.
13. You can make good money
As with most professions, pay is commensurate with experience in holistic health coaching. While pay can range from about $50 per hour to $200 per hour (or more), the longer you work in the field, the more clients are willing to pay you for your expertise.
14. You need to take sleep seriously
Sleep is crucial to maintaining holistic health. Much like stress, failing to catch those Z’s can lead to a host of health problems. By advising your clients to make time for adequate sleep, you may save them the headache of a doctor’s visit later.
15. Listening is key
As a holistic health coach, you’ll partially be playing the role of detective. Active listening is the key to uncovering your clients’ problems and devising the right program to solve them.
16. You won’t always have the answers (and that’s okay)
Part of being a holistic health coach is knowing when it’s time to refer a patient to their physician. While preventative measures are effective, they don’t make your clients immune to illness. When in doubt, it’s always best to play it safe and get a medical professional involved.
17. You have to be willing to network
Networking isn’t just for CEOs in suits. If you want to make it as a holistic health coach, it’s vital to connect with peers in your industry in order to grow your career. By building a solid network, you’ll learn from like-minded pros and increase your referral business.
18. It’s your job to set attainable goals
Setting attainable goals is literally in your job description, but don’t forget about setting realistic goals for yourself. By breaking down your overarching goals into smaller, more manageable chunks, you’ll be able to take the baby steps that’ll get you to where you want to go.
19. Detoxes aren’t just for the body
While we’re big fans of dietary detoxes, there are many types of programs that can clear out the junk in clients’ lives. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to wellness. Think home detoxes or even relationships detoxes - anything to keep your clients healthy and positive.
20. Things will change
Client needs are ever-evolving; what’s right for them today might be wrong for them next week. Stay cognizant of your clients’ goals and progress, quickly adapting their programs to accommodate their needs along the way.
21. Corporations are waiting for you
Workplace wellness is a $6 billion industry in the United States. Corporations often have built-in budgets for wellness perks, such as - you guessed it - holistic health coaches. This makes large companies a good starting point for job seekers in the health coaching space.
22. You can get certified for supplemental services
If you want to expand your offerings, getting your certification for related services, such as counseling or reiki (healing touch), can help you to boost your business and your pay.
23. You must diversify your income
If you use a single powerhouse as the source of your clientele, you could get yourself into trouble. It’s easy to get comfortable with (seemingly) reliable sources of business and say “to heck with the rest - I’ve got a good thing going here.” The problem comes when that source dries up; now you have to scramble to create a portfolio from scratch in order to support yourself. This problem can be avoided if you intentionally garner business from a wide range of sources.
24. It takes a love of people
Above all else, you must possess a hunger to help others. Holistic health coaching (or any personal coaching) is all about taking pride in the success of others. If this is what gets you up in the morning, it’s a surefire sign you’re headed down the right path.
25. Nobody’s perfect
Not you, not your clients, not Jennifer Lopez. Keep your standards high, but don’t beat yourself up if you fail. By adopting this attitude and encouraging your clients to do the same, there will be no limits to what you can achieve.