Winter is a great time for coaches to rest up, reflect and recharge their energy. It’s a great time to also work on your ongoing professional development and what better way this time of year than to cozy up with a good book!
Many of you are taking your professional development as a health & wellness coach seriously and are preparing to take the certification exam of the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (https://nbhwc.org). It is definitely an exam to be taken seriously! Concerted preparation is needed to pass, even for seasoned health & wellness professionals.
Many people find that being part of an Exam Study Group with other coaches can be extremely valuable. Some great resources are the Exam Study Groups offered by Real Balance Global Wellness (Starting Jan. 9, 2023. (https://realbalance.com/study-group-for-the-national-exam-july-2022). These groups are open to anyone preparing for the exam, not just Real Balance alumni. We have been offering these groups for years and they are led by two of our Real Balance faculty: Annalise Evenson and Michelle Lesperance.
Here are the Top Ten Books that Annalise, Michelle and myself would recommend that you include in your exam preparation as well as for your own professional development as a coach.
NUMBER ONE: Masterful Health & Wellness Coaching: Deepening Your Craft. Michael Arloski.
I’m unabashedly recommending my own book first for one very practical reason – one of the central purposes in writing this book was to put all of the major behavioral change theories for health & wellness coaches preparing for the national exam in one place and show how they apply to coaching.
Appreciative Inquiry – Chapter Four
Positive Psychology – Chapter Four
Self-Determination Theory – Chapter Six
Social Cognitive Theory – Chapter Six
Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change – Chapter Eight
Motivational Interviewing – Chapter Nine
It is also worth noting that all the content regarding The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change in Chapter Eight was edited for me by Drs. James and Janice Prochaska. In Chapter Nine, all the content regarding Motivational Interviewing was edited by Dr. Adam Aréchiga, a professor of Psychology at Loma Linda University who has taught M.I. courses for years.
Masterful Health & Wellness Coaching will also teach you about: coaching skills at a high level; how to coach clients with health challenges; how to be directive yet remain within the client-centered heart of coaching. It also explores how to use self-disclosure effectively; how to avoid collusion, and many more topics that are relevant to the national exam.
NUMBER TWO: Changing to Thrive by James and Janice Prochaska. (https://jprochaska.com/books/changing-to-thrive-book/)
A thorough understanding of the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change is foundational for anyone practicing health & wellness coaching. In Changing to Thrive, the Prochaskas draw upon their countless research studies to show the coach how to work with clients at every one of the six stages of change. Especially helpful is the material on how to work with the person in Pre-Contemplation and help them simply move to Contemplation. While the original work on the Stages of Change model was done primarily in clinical settings, in this book the Prochaskas use examples related to challenges that health and wellness coaching clients frequently face. It is critical that coaches learn how to co-create with their clients, action steps that are ‘stage appropriate’. The book also provides coaches with 12 Principals of Progress that can help guide our clients through the stages of change to healthy lifestyle improvement.
NUMBER THREE: Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change, 2ND Ed. Michael Arloski
Top of the list before Masterful was published, this was the first major book specifically on health & wellness coaching and set much of the foundation for the field. Used as a primary text by many health & wellness coach training programs/schools, this Amazon review by Jennifer Rogers describes its value well. “I am currently utilizing my coaching skills as I start up a health coaching program in a teaching hospital’s primary care setting. I used Dr. Arloski’s original book as my coaching Bible. As I read through his second edition I am just as impressed. He makes wellness attainable to all of us by his deep understanding of behavioral health. The references to other founders in the wellness field and mentions of helpful resources truly makes this book an invaluable resource. He has done all the hard work for us coaches and passed it on to us in this book. Every time I read a new chapter and apply it in the coaching session, myself and the client benefit. This book is a go to guide for all coaches and for anyone who wants to make sustainable lifestyle changes.”
NUMBER FOUR: Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change, Third Edition. Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (https://www.amazon.com/Motivational-Interviewing-Helping-People-Applications/dp/1609182278/ref=sr_1_1?gclid=Cj0KCQiAtbqdBhDvARIsAGYnXBN6cm3WP-VDrrXLL_mRnCB2ScAkiJP1KpaVEoluwBJxerEHV0zpqaQaAqNKEALw_wcB&hvadid=241591702995&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=1014517&hvnetw=g&hvqmt=e&hvrand=13138936209095786326&hvtargid=kwd-43267252088&hydadcr=15557_10342300&keywords=motivational+interviewing+3rd+edition&qid=1672421889&sr=8-1)
Motivational Interviewing or “MI” is another foundational resource for health & wellness coaches. This 3rd Edition presents the methodology of MI in a thorough but very understandable manner. As Adam Aréchiga put it, MI and coaching do a lot of the same things, they just call it by different names. While Miller and Rollnick come right out in this text and say the names of all of these skills and methods don’t matter, the wise exam taker would be prudent in learning these terms, especially for all the various types of reflections. I also found many hidden gems in this book that can truly enhance the skills of any coach.
NUMBER FIVE: Coaching Psychology Manual. Moore, M., Jackson, E., & Tschannen-Moran, B.
Another foundational book of the field, Coaching Psychology Manual is an easy read that is very comprehensive. A great blend of theory, tools and practical application. A must for exam preparation.
NUMBER SIX: Co-Active Coaching: The Proven Framework for Transformative Conversations at Work and in Life, 4th Ed.. Kimsey-House, H., Kimsey-House, K., Sandahl, P., Whitworth,L., Phillips, A. (https://www.amazon.com/Co-Active-Coaching-audiobook/dp/B07LGF815Q/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1ARJZ1WP9DA0Y&keywords=co-active+coaching+4th+edition&qid=1672423077&s=books&sprefix=Co-Active+Coaching%2Cstripbooks%2C212&sr=1-1)
One of, if not the best, books ever on coaching foundational principals and coaching skills. The authors were among the initial pioneers of the life coaching field and the founders of Coaches Training Institute. Deepen your understanding of the skills used across all types of coaching.
NUMBER SEVEN: Becoming a Professional Life Coach: Lessons from the Institute of Life Coach Training. Williams, Patrick and Menendez, Diane. (https://wwnorton.com/books/9780393708363)
Tied with Co-Active Coaching for just about the best book on coaching skills, presence, etc. Becoming a Professional Life Coach provides you with a rich understanding of coaching mindset and methods. Numerous scenarios and dialogues give the coach a real feel for how to implement these principals. Joy and creativity in coaching come through in this book urging coaches to stretch and grow. 3rd edition just out.
NUMBER EIGHT: Your Journey To A Healthier Life: Paths of Wellness Guided Journal, Vol. 1, 2nd Ed. Michael Arloski (https://wholeperson.com/store/your-journey-to-a-healthier-life.shtml)
This journal lays out the whole Wellness Mapping 360 Methodology for lifestyle improvement for clients to use either with a coach, or if they are quite self-directed, on their own. As such it becomes a very useful workbook for the coach to understand coaching methodology and understand how lifestyle behavioral change can happen effectively. Numerous tools included.
NUMBER NINE: How to Be a Health Coach: An Integrative Wellness Approach Third Edition. Meg Jordan. (https://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Health-Coach-Integrative/dp/B09XJGVDHQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=16JWJUA2ODES3&keywords=how+to+be+a+health+coach+meg+jordan&qid=1672681245&s=books&sprefix=Meg+Jordan%2Cstripbooks%2C151&sr=1-1)
A great resource from one of the great wellness pioneers, and my comrade in being a founding member of the NBHWC, Meg Jordan. To quote from the book’s own review “The new 3rd edition of this highly valued and popular textbook offers updated behavior change models, theories and essential healthy lifestyle information with the biometric data coaches need to know. Also included: comprehensive, actionable lessons for the key competencies needed for the NBHWC exam; new guidelines for group coaching, a vastly improved index; coaching templates for doing intake sessions, initial meetings, ongoing sessions, motivational interviewing, and for closing the coaching relationship; client agreement forms; and several types of Wellness Wheels for use with clients.”
NUMBER TEN: Professional Coaching Competencies: The Complete Guide. Goldvarg, D., Mathews, P., and Perel, N. (https://www.amazon.com/Professional-Coaching-Competencies-Complete-Guide/dp/1532376820)
A comprehensive, hands-on guide to understanding and applying the International Coaching Federation (https://coachingfederation.org/) professional coaching competencies to your coaching. Michelle found this book very helpful when she studied for the ICF Exam.
There are so many honorable mentions that they deserve a blog post of their own, some to include that Annalise and Michelle recommended would be:
Nurse Coaching: Integrative Approaches for Health and Wellbeing by Dossey, Luck and Schaub.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
One Small Step Can Change Your Life, The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer.
Thrive by Martin Seligman
Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson
Fierce Self-Compassion by Kristen Neff
Tiny Habits by B J Fogg
Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills by Tony Stoltzfus
Change Your questions Change Your Life by Marilee Adams
Some other wellness favorites:
The Blue Zones, Dan Buettner
The Wellness Workbook, Jack Travis & Regina Ryan
The Open Heart Companion, Maggie Lichtenberg
The Craving Mind, Judson Brewer
Raw Coping Power, Joel Bennet
The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, Tony Schwartz
The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight, and Gain Health by Dean Ornish
On Buying Books
To save considerable money buying these books, look to book brokers that draw from hundreds of independent used bookstores. I often buy from https://www.abebooks.com
So there you have it! Kick off the New Year with cozy cup of your favorite wellness beverage and a good book!
Michael Arloski, Ph.D., PCC, NBC-HWC is CEO and Founder of Real Balance Global Wellness – a world leader in health and wellness coach training (https://realbalance.com/). Doctor Arloski is a pioneering architect of the field of health and wellness coaching. He and his company have trained thousands of coaches around the world.