What is Wellness Coaching?

Coaching can be a great value to add either independent of or in addition to a multidisciplinary team. Coaches and therapists work in a similar fashion and draw on similar skill sets, but there are a few important distinctions that may help you decide which would be a better route for you.

Psychotherapy utilizes therapeutic methods that delve deeper into understanding and treatment of mental health conditions.  Coaching aims to help clients gain experience insight into patterns of behavior and provides encouragement, motivation, accountability, and guidance towards making changes that impact the habitual behavior or way of thinking that is getting in the way of overall health and wellness.

We are creatures of habit and changing thought/behavior patterns is tough work and unlikely to occur on willpower alone. Coaching focuses on practices that have been demonstrated in research to increase the likelihood of changing these patterns. Coaches and clinicians often draw on similar theoretical concepts; however, training for coaches tends to concentrate on positive psychology for the aim of behavior change, health promotion, and/or organizational leadership.  Overall, both modalities can work towards emphasizing strengths; however, coaching was founded on this and is able to focus on positive psychological approaches towards an individual or organizational wellness.

Types of Wellness Coaching

Our coaching programs are available globally and tailored toward meeting your specific goals, needs, and aspirations, including but not limited to the following:

  • Career Coaching can help you identify and better understand your passion, be strategic about planning your career, or transition into a new career.
  • Life Coaching can span from insight-oriented coaching to developing more emotional intelligence, improving self-esteem, setting and attaining goals, or increasing motivation.  This type of coaching can have a profound impact on many facets of your life.
  • Relationship Coaching will cover all phases of relationships from regular interpersonal relationships to intimate relationships. You learn how to effectively navigate your relationships, as well as gain communication skills for dating relationships, pre-engagement, pre-marital or marital relationships, as well as ensuring a healthy divorce.
  • Business Coaching can support startup entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 executives.  Most important to business coaching is not only understanding business culture but helping clients identify how their specific strengths and struggles impact their colleagues and the organizational culture and direction overall. If you’re newly starting out in the business world, you are a seasoned veteran seeking additional support, or you’re looking for that edge to take your career to the next level, having a coach that is able to help you make sense of yourself and your career can have a profound impact on you and your organization’s overall business wellness.
  • Family Coaching can help individuals who are trying to start a family to individuals who are working to blend a family.  Having the proper support for managing a family system, finding ways to appropriately communicate needs, etc. can have a profound impact on you and your family’s wellness.

Key Aspects of Pillars of Wellness Coaching

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is the backbone of our coaching model. MI is a communication style that was originally developed as a method of helping change-resistant addiction clients change.  However, this style of engaging with clients has been readily accepted by coaches because it is extremely effective at motivating and ensuring change and because it client-driven.

“MI is a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is designed to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.”  (Miller & Rollnick, 2013, p. 23)

Dr. Miller once described MI as sitting down and looking through a family photo album with a client – the current equivalent might be scrolling through Facebook with a client. The notion is that using this guiding style of communication aims to follow, but will give guidance and engagement as needed. MI empowers people to change by drawing out their own desire, confidence, and capacity to change. A good MI provider is curious and teachable. They want to better understand what is going on with a client and aim to facilitate change in a way that honors and encourages the client’s autonomy. MI perceives clients as equals and, in many ways, superior, as it is their life and their own life journey. So, those trained in MI aim to refrain from providing unsolicited advice or confronting clients. Rather than “making people change” the aim is to get out of the way of clients’ intrinsic desire to change and nudge it in a positive direction as that reveals itself.

Motivation is not really a helpful term unless we break it down.  It is not a moralistic decision to do or not do, rather it is often a combination of the following:

  • Clients feel stuck and may even feel unsure or have mixed feelings about change – High Ambivalence
  • Clients doubt their abilities to change – Low Confidence
  • Clients are uncertain about what they want – Low Desire
  • Clients don’t see the advantages over disadvantages – Importance is low

The aim then is to increase motivation for change by engaging in a collaborative partnership where providers are evoking the intrinsic motivation and skills for change while accepting the client where they are and providing compassion towards their clients to create a fertile environment for change. With a key premise being that the truth is inside of each client, Pillars of Wellness coaches use these principles to increase clients’ motivation to change.

Strengths-based Focus

Both coaches and therapists are beginning to focus more on evaluating client’s strengths, which is a critical change from the historical pathology-focused model of traditional psychotherapy.  Ironically, this was an evolution away from a model that moralized good behavior or bad behavior and moved into understanding there are elements of illness or disease associated with mental illness.  With that came a scientifically informed treatment model, which was a necessary evolution, but coaching, positive psychology, and a strengths-based approach take this another step forward.

Why you should consider adding a coach to your or your employees’ wellness journey

The need for mental health services is growing at a rate that is outpacing the availability of mental healthcare providers. So, the importance of preventative measures and leveraging the power of positive psychology-oriented coaching, is also increasing. Look for a coach that meets your needs and just like in therapy, if you do not feel like it is a good fit, then find a coach that more appropriately meets your needs.

It is becoming more and more common to add a coach to your treatment team. This could make sense for many reasons and there is nothing that says you can’t work on being more assertive at work with your coach, while also treating a past trauma with your psychotherapist. There are many instances where a coach and therapist can actually work in a symbiotic relationship.

Mental health counseling and coaching both have their place in the wellness journey. Finding what works for you is what is ultimately going to get you closer to your wellness goals. So, reach out today if you are wondering if you, a loved one, a colleague, or your team would benefit from consulting with one of our Pillars of Wellness Coaches.

* note coaching is often not an insurance-covered benefit. It is common that employers will contract directly for coaching services to support their staff through workshops or individual sessions to help their team and future leaders excel as they develop into Pillars of their organization.