Your clients will come to you, as a wellness coach, for various reasons. Maybe the client has come to realize that they need and want to start new fitness, wellness, or health related behaviors. Usually, this type of client is very committed to the process. But as we already know, making changes to fitness, wellness or overall health can be challenging for the client. If your client felt that they could be successful on their own, they would probably not be looking for you to help them, or the client may have already been successful making changes and sustaining them.
Emerging research has demonstrated that behavior change is typically seen to be done in what is known as stages. In general, your clients will be in different stages, anywhere from having not even thought about changing behaviors, on through to the stage of trying to maintain a certain behavior. This process also includes thinking about making a change, making plans to change, and using our vision to try different ways to make behavior change work.
The wellness coach wields a lot of responsibility in this situation. As an example, if the coach was to use a technique that prematurely encouraged some new behaviors, changing behaviors may be discouraged during the process. An example would be a client who is contemplating change, but due to their stage of readiness, they are not ready to actually move into a higher stage of readiness – and the pressure to implement behavior strategies before they are ready could cause the client to withdraw from the change process overall.
Being able to avoid bad timing of your interventions requires that you understand where the client is relative to the stage of readiness or the stage of change. This is typically done during the assessment portion of your interactions, usually in the first or second session with your client. When we use this method of identifying stages of change, we are able to be more specific about behavior change. This becomes important for the fact that all of our clients will most likely be in different stages of change. Being specific is one form of laser coaching, sometimes used by wellness coaches. But this process of assessing stage of readiness, is really done to relate not as much about the client’s outlooks or perspectives on life overall, as it is to their specific stage of readiness to change a certain specific behavior.
Behavior change is hard. It is viewed mostly as a stepwise process, whereby the client will show a capacity to move both forward toward an action, yet may occasionally relapse back toward an action, or inactivity, during the coaching relationship. If you are effective enough as a wellness coach, you will know what stage of readiness your client is in, and that is important- so that you will be able to employ strategies or techniques to help change in the specific areas identified. Your coaching delivery methods must be effective for the stage of readiness that your client is in. Different applications of strategies or specific techniques during each stage along the way will allow you to coach the client toward reaching their health, fitness or wellness goals on track and successfully. We also want to coach the client toward lifelong change, to maintain changes made during the coaching process.
Behavior changes needs and the stages are easily identifiable and pretty critical. Consider the precontemplation stage. During this stage your client has not yet thought about making any changes in their behavior. On the opposite of the stages of change, we have clients who are in the maintenance phase, where changes in behavior have already been successfully adopted. Within each stage are characteristics that your client presents and are very distinct and luckily, recognizable. This means coaches have to learn different strategies to use in different stages seen in the client.
If you’d like more information about coach education and online training with a health and wellness focus, consider enrollment in the Spencer Institute Holistic Life Coach Certification and the Wellness Coach Certification. If you are brand new to coaching, we recommend the Life Strategies Coaching Certification.