What is a Health Coach?

Health and wellness coaching is a collaborative partnership between the coach and the client. A coach meets clients where they are in their health journey, discovers where they want to be, and facilitates forward movement toward their self-directed vision and goals. They meet regularly to discuss their progress, discover and resolve any roadblocks, co-create weekly action steps, and celebrate their accomplishments. Throughout the process, the coach encourages the client to discover the answers for themselves by asking thought-provoking questions and making reflective statements (1,2).

In coaching, the client is the expert; they know what works best for them, their family, their schedule, and their finances. This is unlike health care professionals (i.e., providers, nurses, therapists, etc.) who are considered the experts in their fields and freely share their expert advice. A coach, however, will not give unsolicited advice or tell a client what to do. Additionally, a coach seldom educates; when they do, they still seek to uphold a client’s independence. Furthermore, they will not analyze or solve problems, mentor, or counsel clients (1,2).

Christ is like our Ultimate Coach, and we are His clients. We are co-laborers with Him (3) in our spiritual journey. Like a coach, He guides (4) us and walks beside us through life’s ups and downs. Our Saviour encourages us to reason with Him (5) instead of accepting His expert advice because He doesn’t want us to blindly follow Him like a robot. Christ wants us to make intelligent decisions with each small step we take. He upholds our autonomy by giving us absolute freedom of choice, even if that choice leads us away from Him (6). Christ does not manipulate us into doing what He thinks is best for us, and neither does a coach. Instead, He encourages us to talk to Him so that together we can tackle any roadblocks we might encounter. In general, this is what a health coach does.

Reflective Questions

  • What is one concept you’re taking away from this article?
  • How will this concept change your professional practice and/or personal life?
  • What is one small step you could take to incorporate that concept into your life?

Current Context of Coaching

There are many people who consider themselves health coaches — some take classes to become a certified health coach while others opt for other routes of training. Because health coaching isn’t [yet] a regulated industry, there are various definitions and broad categorizations. It’s a good idea to research closely the programs that individuals undergo when they begin to use the “coach” title.

The National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) is quickly emerging as the industry’s standard for health coaching, as many companies list this certification in their job postings. To be certified by the NBHWC, one must take a Board-approved training program and pass the Board exam.  Southern Adventist University and Loma Linda University are among those who provide National Board-approved training programs.  Other organizations may also provide excellent curriculum, but the coaching skills offered may vary.  If you are looking to become trained as a health coach, be sure you understand the differences and what you are truly being equipped to practice as a professional.

By Lillian Simon, BSN, RN, NBC-HWC

Learn More

Cite this article

L. Simon, What is a Health Coach?, (2024).  Adventist Association of Health and Wellness Coaching, AdventistCoaching.org.


  1.  Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational interviewing: Helping people change (3rd ed.). The Guilford Press.
  1. Moore, M., Jackson, E., & Tschannen-Moran, B. (2016). Coaching psychology manual (2nd ed.). Wolters Kluwer.
  1. 1 Corinthians 3:9
  1. Isaiah 58:11; John 16:13; Luke 1:79
  1. Isaiah 1:18
  1. Joshua 24:15