One of the basic tenants of Mind-Body Medicine is that doctors can’t do it all: people get healthier if they take an active role in their own health.
For many people, that means seeing a Mind-Body specialist, but many others are looking to life coaches to help them make lasting lifestyle changes.
“With health care costs spiraling out of control and a rapidly deteriorating level of public health the need for wellness coaching has grown dramatically in recent years,” said Saybrook psychology alumna and professional life coach Dr. Lisa Mastain. “Corporations, hospitals, treatment centers, health clubs, and independent consumers are seeing the benefits of investing in health and wellness coaching.”
Now Mastain, in collaboration with Saybrook’s Integrative Health Studies program, has developed a class for Saybrook students on life coaching for health and wellness (IHS 4110: Health and Wellness Coaching). It will also be offered as part of Saybrook’s new degree in Mind-Body Medicine.
A crucial insight in life coaching, as in Mind-Body Medicine, Mastain said, is that “better health information is not enough.” People need help making that information meaningful to them, and then acting on it. Life coaching can be one of the most effective ways that someone can make and maintain lasting lifestyle changes.
“The most important part of life coaching is creating a one-on-one relationship that empowers someone to reach, and maintain, their goals,” she said. “You’re using a process of inquiry, accountability, support, and feedback to help clients who want to make lifestyle changes, who want to live more satisfying and healthful lives, but who haven’t been as successful as they’d want on their own.”
The course, which will be available beginning in the upcoming spring semester, will provide students with an overview of the health and wellness field, a comprehensive understanding of the principles of health and wellness coaching, an introduction to the science of lasting behavior change, and the core coaching skills and competencies defined by the International Coach Federation.
It will also, Mastain stressed, be highly interactive: in addition to learning health and wellness coaching skills for others, students will develop their own personal health and wellness plans, incorporate these plans into their own lives, and practice coaching others with their plans during the course.
“Students who complete this course will have attained a basic level of competence in health and wellness coaching and will be prepared to integrate these skills into their current careers,” Mastain said. “This course will also provide those individuals interested in deepening their coaching skill set with a solid foundation to prepare them for more advanced courses in health and wellness coaching.”