Updated: Nov 12
For some the decision to partner with a health coach is made when, despite best efforts, their health is stuck in a rut and sustained change has been impossible. With our busy lives, pressure to deliver at work or at home, this is a common scenario.
But what do you do if you want to partner with a health coach? Are health coaches available in Singapore? The answer is Yes and in this article we provide some pointers for how you can find and work with one.
What is Health Coaching?
First of all, what is a health coach? The US National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC) defines the role of health coaching as:
“Health and wellness coaches engage individuals and groups in evidence-based, client-centered processes that facilitate and empower clients to develop and achieve self-determined, health and wellness goals.
Coaches assist clients to use their own insight, personal strengths, and resources to set goals, commit to action steps, and establish accountability in building an envisioned healthy lifestyle. In this way, coaches empower clients through encouragement, exploration, the mobilization of internal strengths, the identification and utilization of external resources, and through the support and development of self-management strategies for executing sustainable, healthy lifestyle changes.”
Health coaching is shown to be effective in clinical and non-clinical settings to address a broad range of chronic health conditions, as well as mental and social wellbeing. Its focus is on creating healthy habits that last a lifetime. Habits that become lifestyle, to allow the client to live life to the fullest.
For us at The Whole Health Practice, living a healthy life does not have to mean long-term restriction, the avoidance of the things that we love. Nor does it mean hardcore health regimens and living in denial. It means regaining health and finding balance through a lifestyle in keeping with one's vision and values.
A Global Community and our Little Red Dot
While health coaching is new compared to other fields in allied healthcare (healthcare providers distinct from doctors, nurses and dentists), it is now well established in key territories globally. The USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand all have formal bodies that provide a framework for the practice of health coaching, the certification and continuing education of their members. In the USA there is the NBHWC, in the UK the 'Health Coaching Association' and in Australia and New Zealand the 'Health Coaches Australia and New Zealand Association'.
In Singapore the government is adopting health coaching in its national Healthier SG plan and transformation of the healthcare system. At the time of writing the definition of health coaching and any potential framework or registry (as in the case for sports coaches) have yet to be formalised. Locally, the body most active in the promotion of health coaching is the Society of Behavioural Health Singapore, facilitating regular coaching focused workshops for its members and the public.
For our part at The Whole Health Practice (registered in Singapore), we decided to gain personal certification with the NBHWC.
The Coaching Process
Health coaching varies from practitioner to practitioner, dependent of their training, level of expertise or area of specialism. Different coaches offer different programmes; some coaches specialise in certain areas, others not. Coaching based programmes typically involve 8 to 12 sessions over 3 to 4 months, or longer. Clients ideally will have the skills and confidence to finish with their coaching by the end of the programme. Thereafter some clients may engage with their coaches on an ad hoc basis.
As health and healthy living is directly related to lifestyle and one's values and even definition of health differs between people, what works for one person may not work for another, even if their health goals are the same. The coaching process teases out these personal viewpoints before the client works further with the coach to plan their strategy to regain health.
Standard sessions normally last up to 45 minutes or an hour. Some coaches might offer ‘micro-sessions’ (30 minutes or so) to support their clients with specific issues.
Coaching is effective face-to face, by video and over the phone although preferably the coach and client should be able to see each other.
How to Engage a Health Coach, the Right Coach for You
Coaches come from a broad range of backgrounds and bring their own life experience and training to their practice. Some might come from clinical backgrounds, others not. While coaches should be objective and remain neutral in their engagement with the client it can sometimes be preferable that your outlook or worldview are in alignment.
To find a health coach, search online. To find a certified health coach, use a database from one of the national level certifying bodies, as can be found at the NBHWC website.
Before engaging the services of a health coach spend time with them to ask questions and gain a level of comfort. See if they have other qualifications that might be of value in your search for health.
When Coaching is not Effective
Coaching is only effective when the client is ready to make change, and - for many of reasons - not everyone is. Clients have to come to their own understanding of if and when they need support to take the right steps to improve their health. For many this might come after several attempts at making change by themselves, a progressive decline in their long-term health or a referral by their doctor.
Health coaching is a commitment. If you have signed-up with a health coach and the relationship is just not working, most should let you break your agreement - after a limited number of sessions - with minimal financial penalty. Be sure to discuss this before you sign-up for your programme.
Singapore has its own unique health challenges - the amazing food - the equatorial climate - the stresses of a modern, global city within the confines of a small physical area. However, a growing number of people are trying to find their path to health even if not always successfully. Of the many resources that are available, health coaching is an avenue that is increasingly being explored and there is a small and growing community of certified health coaches to support the city's residents.
For a list of published studies on health coaching, see here.
Achieve your Health Goals
Your health, physical – mental – social - is complex and affected by multiple factors within and outside of your control. Our consults and programmes address the whole person, the root causes of ill health and maximising your health performance & vitality.
Take the first step. Book a Whole Health Consult to assess, identify and prioritise key factors (known and unknown) that affect your health. And receive personalised recommendations on how to address them.
Want to put recommendations into action? Learn more about our programmes for individuals or teams.