Health and Wellness Coaching Trends for the New Decade

A whole new experience of time

Health and Wellness Coaching Trends for the New Decade

Only now that we have put 2020 in the rearview mirror does it seem like we are moving ahead into a new decade.  Who knows what moniker we will come up with for this century’s version of “the twenties”, unlike the “Roaring Twenties” of the 1900’s.

So, what lies ahead, particularly for the field of health & wellness coaching (HWC) in the next ten years?  Where HWC is going is influenced by three major factors: internal factors within the field itself; the larger field of wellness and health promotion and the field of medicine, particularly, lifestyle medicine.  

Pandemic Adaptations  

While the Covid-19 Pandemic has radically altered so many aspects of life, work and health for all of us, it will pass, but will leave a lasting mark.  This is evident in the 2021 Wellable Employee Wellness Industry Trends Report (https://resources.wellable.co/2021-employee-wellness-industry-trends-report).  Based on what we have already seen happen as adaptations to the health cautious pandemic restrictions employers are intending to:

Invest Less In:

  • Health Fairs
  • Free Healthy Food/Stocked Kitchens
  • Biometric Screenings
  • On-site Fitness Classes
  • Gym Membership Reimbursement
  • Health Risk Assessments

What will that mean for HWC?  

There could be less referral to HWC from simple screenings and HRA’s.  Coaching clients will have less opportunity to exercise at their workplace and will rely more on their coaches for creative ways to adapt fitness to their home environments where coaching accountability will be of even more value.

Employers are intending to: Invest More In: 

  • Mental Health
  • Telemedicine
  • Stress Management/Resilience
  • Mindfulness/Meditation

What will that mean for HWC?

This is an excellent opportunity for HWC to shine.  Coaches can work with their clients remotely and be of great value providing help with managing stress and developing resilience.  They can also be resources for not only the learning of mindfulness techniques but provide coaching around the adoption of these habits and their consistent practice.  Mental health coaching will increase but coaches will have to be especially careful to remain within their Scope of Practice (https://nbhwc.org/scope-of-practice).  Decisions will have to be made as to when referral to EAP Counselors would be much more appropriate.  As telemedicine increases coaches may be able to play an important role as referral resources for filling the lifestyle prescription – the lifestyle behavioral improvements requested by the treatment team.  Coaches role in primary care will continue to increase.

Investing in Health & Wellness Coaching

The Wellable Report Key Takeaway regarding HWC was that “Investment in health coaching has stayed relatively consistent.  Although they offer a more personalized approach, cost often prevents more adoption.”  When it comes to investing in HWC employers intend to:

  • Invest more – 23%
  • Invest about the same – 57%
  • Invest less – 21%

It’s great that we are holding our own in the eyes of employers.  HWC has done a great job of providing the evidence of our effectiveness.  The continual challenge is the affordability for companies to provide HWC.  Look for new experiments about who gets coaching and how to provide it.  Group coaching should be on the rise and coaches would be well advised to learn more about how to provide this service.  The real GAME CHANGER in the next ten years will be when HWC services qualify for direct reimbursement from insurance companies.  As you know, we are already in the Level Three of the CPT Codes.  When HWC reaches the first level, the field will explode.

Influences and Trends from the Larger Wellness Field

road of wellness

To a great degree we might say that as goes wellness, so goes wellness coaching.  The field of wellness and health promotion is quite diverse, ranging from employee wellness programs to spa managers.  It, and HWC are intertwined with the medical world, the fitness world, nutrition, and much more.  Gathering together a panel of wellness and media  experts, the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) put forth ideas about trends for 2021 (https://www.globalwellnesssummit.com/gws-2020/media-experts-predict-six-wellness-trends-for-2021/).

Looking at how the Pandemic has shown us the importance of preventative lifestyle approaches, their leading trend was A New Convergence Between Healthcare and Wellness.  They predict “new models that bring health and wellness together symbiotically” and see telemedicine and tele-wellness playing a much bigger role.  As we described above, much of that tele-wellness role can be filled by health and wellness coaches.

The same GWS panel predicted that Strengthening The Immune System would be another big trend.  While the panel referred to high-tech ways that medicine will be individualizing treatments, we know that the immune system is powerfully affected by stress and lifestyle – both strongly in the domain of the well-trained health and wellness coach.

The GWS panel identified a strong trend in Increased Contact with Nature.  Many people have discovered during the era of lockdown that connection with people “is being replaced with nature connection, which provides unique healing and solace in a pandemic.”  There can be a greater emphasis put on contact with the natural world as a way to manage stress and be more active at the same time.  Coaches can help people to come up with strategies for having more nature contact and following through on those ideas.  

The same panel also pointed out the shift that the Pandemic has brought to awareness of ways to optimize our home environments as wellness refuges.  Coaches can play a role here by helping people with de-cluttering and organizing their living spaces and making them work better for both relaxation and comfort and also things like home exercise.

Broader Trends

Pandemic times will end.  Broader trends that were embryonic before the pandemic will continue to grow in importance to health and wellness coaches.  Chief among them is:

  • Coaching with a greater acknowledgement of the role of Social and Environmental Determinants of Change.
  • Incorporation of technology while still providing ‘high-touch’ service.

HWC will emphasize greater exploration of our client’s living situation and how it affects their lifestyle choices.  There will be a greater recognition of the social, environmental and cultural barriers that our clients face and more coaching around how our clients can deal with those challenges.  Some of our most important coaching will be around helping our clients to overcome their sense of isolation and to build community in whatever ways they can.  Connection and support are paramount to wellness.

HWC will integrate more digital resources to help lower stress levels and improve sleep. There will also be more use of exercise apps and videos, digital weight loss trackers, and online nutrition resources in the coaching process.  Some of this will take place in individual coaching and some will work well with the support provided by coaching people in groups who share the same wellness challenges and goals.

Perfectly Positioned

HWC has been operating via telephone since its inception.  Nothing new here and perfect for our current times, and the times to come.  Adapting coaching to platforms like Zoom is a natural.  Cell phones have made it possible for coaches to reach people in even the most remote places.  Our challenges as we move forward will be:

  • To maintain high standards of professionalism and integrity so health and wellness coaches are held in high esteem and value by the public and our related professions.
  • To continue to pursue ways to make coaching more affordable through different access systems and through – eventually – direct reimbursement.
  • To maintain our identify and function as wellness coaches focusing on lifestyle improvement.

We are perfectly positioned to be leaders in the health and wellness of people around the world.  We can deliver the individualized wellness services that so many people need in order to live long and happy lives.  The future is bright!  Coach on!

Michael Arloski, Ph.D., PCC, NBC-HWC is CEO and Founder of Real Balance Global Wellness (https://realbalance.com) a premier health & wellness coach training organization that has trained thousands of coaches around the world.

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