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What is Functional Medicine Health Coaching?

"Health coaches apply motivational strategies, behavior change theory, and communication techniques to help clients create sustainable changes that lead to better health. They help translate the doctor’s plan of care into the patient’s plan of action, bridging the gap between what patients know they need to do to be healthy and the intrinsic motivation needed to make and sustain those changes.


Functional Medicine Certified Health coaches are experts in making healthy lifestyle behavior change happen. Their fluency in functional medicine principles and motivational strategies qualifies them to partner with doctors and serve as the implementers within the collaborative care team. Health coaches extend the doctor’s reach by offering individualized support to implement protocols, address roadblocks, and work through the day-to-day challenges that arise for patients making significant changes.


When a patient needs to change their habits for their health, Functional Medicine Health Coaches can make those changes more accessible and sustainable. Health coaches help patients set goals and provide achievable steps and strategies for them to maintain healthy changes long-term. Just like a functional medicine clinician, a health coach makes sure patients feel heard and that they share ownership of their healing process." ~Functional Medicine Coaching Academy


What Makes a FMCHC different: Can you coach?


Becoming a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach means graduating from a 12 month rigorous program that has been certified by the NBHWC as having all the criteria necessary for the graduate to be allowed to apply and sit for the NBC-HWC  exam. NBHWC has partnered with the National Board of Medical Examiners to create this credentialed exam become a board certified health coach. This board certification is the only one recognized by insurance companies and allows health coaches to work with providers.


Functional Medicine Certified Health Coaches are taught and evaluated on the core concepts and protocols from the Institute of Functional Medicine. They are also trained and evaluated according to the protocols set forth by the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches. on the art of health coaching. 

The program included roughly 20+ hours of self taught curriculum material each week, in addition to weekly 2 hour live classes whereby the coach candidate is taught techniques, and is observed "practice coaching" by the course facilitator and fellow students. These required weekly classes gives the opportunity to practice coaching and receive feedback each time on our ability to comprehend and put into practice the curriculum material, quizzes, assignments, techniques, etc., for the course. 


 There are also 2 Practical Skills Development oral exam during the 12 months, in which our ability to coach a live session is completed in front of, and evaluated by, the facilitator and the cohort. There is a final  Practical Skills Assessment that evaluates and gives the final determination of your ability to actually coach a client according to the standards set by the NBHWC.  


This is NOT an "at your pace online course take a knowledge exam at the end".  But rather an interactive program that pushed candidates out of their comfort zone each week to learn new material from a wide range of functional medicine information and positive psychology areas, and apply it when coaching the client.  Most health coach programs are self taught and are about 6 months in length with a minimal, if any, focus on the ability to actually COACH. 


Functional Medicine trained Health Coaches work with the providers treatment protocol, by partnering with the client to help them navigate the protocol or diagnosis in a way that best supports the clients needs and vision for their own optimal health and wellness. It's about meeting the client where they are at and who they currently are, and partnering with them as a supportive guide to where they want to go and who they want to be. 


Does that mean a doctor has to refer me to a health coach?

Nope, it sure doesn't. Anyone that has the desire to work on their health can work with a health coach. You do not have to have an active diagnosis to seek out help. Some folks just simply have the desire to work on improving their health in general. That could mean changing up how nutrition is represented in their life, maybe they struggle with sleep, or want movement or exercise to become a consistent part of their life. Essentially any area a client struggles with that is affecting their health (physical or mental- it's all one in this world) is an open topic to be explored.


In addition to being a FMCHC, I am  also trained and certified in personal training, behavior change, joint mobility and injury mitigation, and I have an extensive work history with mental health, weight management, chronic pain and addiction populations. As such, my area of interest is utilizing functional medicine, health coaching, and movement coaching to support persons struggling with mental health and/or chronic pain issues. 


Sometimes it is a life changing health problem like cancer, diabetes, a car accident, or a significant surgery that can create a mental health issue like anxiety or depression. How do we address the health needs and make some lifestyle changes to help the mental health needs?


Or perhaps its living with the effects of ADD/ADHD.   Which in turn has led to a massive amount of disorganization, literally, in your home life. Now the disorganization is making you feel anxious and overwhelmed all the time. The anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed are now a constant stressor that is affecting your health (hellooo cortisol!) and ability to sleep. Your sleep deprivation is making you snappy at your loved ones and crave lots of junk food. Or maybe withdrawn, numb and apathetic.


 Everyone's reaction is different.


 Perhaps you need help and support with conquering the piles and clutter, and establishing new behavioral habits and a system that leaves you feeling calm, organized, and at peace when you are home chilling on your couch. Maybe now you feel confidant enough to tackle other areas of your health like sleep hygiene, nutrition and exercise.


Everyone has their own personal starting place.


As a person that has lived with significant chronic pain for roughly 22 years now, I am very aware of its effect on mental health and the likelihood for it to lead to depression and anxiety. As a professional in the joint health and movement industry, I am also very aware of how important it is to establish a daily movement routine to work against, or mitigate pain. There are also nutritional components to take into account to decrease inflammation that could be contributing to pain. There are social and environmental support needs to be met. 


The list goes on, and the topic is particular to the clients needs and history. The idea is that there is more to mental health treatment than medication and talk therapy. Quite often it involves significant changes within a clients lifestyle and environmental habits. That can be very difficult and overwhelming to navigate alone. That alone is often what prevents clients from truly embracing their personal path to a successful and fulfilled life.

A health coach can work together with the treating physician and therapist to form a well rounded team to create a client centered and initiated plan that addresses the needs of the client. 


Everyone needs a safe and nonjudgmental space to explore their health needs. 


Ultimately, you must Mind Yourself to Mend Yourself.


My2My Health Coaching at Symmetry Fitness gives you the supportive space to do just that.




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