It’s official…I’m celebrating my health coaching certification as a Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach! Grateful to have chosen this path, I’m enjoying the rewards of being able to help others realize their goals for transformation and healing. This new certification reflects the highest standards in the field of health coaching, which inspires me to expand on a holistic vision of client-centered care.
To illustrate the powerful effects of health and wellness coaching, I’d like to share an overview of my work with a client I’ll refer to as Nancy. Through health coaching and flower energetics therapy, she learned how to thrive amidst the challenges of MS.
Nancy is a 37-year old single woman suffering with symptoms of MS. She lives with her 16-year old daughter and 70-year old mother. She came to see me because she wanted to develop skills for managing her symptoms of chronic pain and fatigue. Previously a physically active person, she worked as a manager in retail. Now she’s in bed most of the day, without much activity.
We met for 8 sessions over a 4 month period. During that time, I focused on building a trusting relationship, based on clear communication and a deep understanding of her needs. Together, we began to discover what was important to her and how she would become able to make meaning of her challenges in order to live life more fully.
From the start, we co-created a long-term goal for healing; or a healing topic: To be better able to honor my body’s strengths while supporting my body’s imperfections. The language was appealing to Nancy, as it focused on honoring and supporting her body, rather than being dissatisfied and wanting to change it. Through this positive lens, she was able to accept her challenges as part of her healing process. This created more room for growth.
In establishing her healing plan, we outlined learning objectives and developed practices that motivated her to achieve her healing topic. In each session, we explored her successes and challenges since our last meeting and expanded on her practices accordingly. After each learning objective below, follows a synopsis of some of her practices. This is to highlight the work that was undertaken.
Practice: Every day, in the afternoon, sit quietly and follow your chosen guided meditation or do 15-minutes of basic sitting meditation. Throughout the day, continue to intuitively take short breaks to pause and breath mindfully as challenges arise.
Practice: Twice a week, immediately after meditating, take a few minutes to reflect on the idea of acceptance. Allow yourself to connect with whatever naturally arises. In your journal write a haiku poem from your reflections. A haiku is a 3-line poem, with the rhythm of 5, 7, 5 syllables. Write 1 haiku using the same topic of acceptance each time you do this practice. Review your writings the evening before our next meeting, to observe patterns and insights.
Practice: Over the next 2 weeks, undertake a 30-minute recorded yoga class, once a week. Do this the same day and time each week to begin to cultivate consistency. Reflect on how you would like to see this practice expand over time. We will discuss this in our next meeting.
Take 1 day a week to actively rest, without any practices.
From this very clear and resonant plan, Nancy began to recognize that her experience of illness was greater than her physical limitations alone. For instance, she became better able to impart moments of mindfulness and creativity into her day. She was able to give herself the nourishment she needed to heal. Her body responded with more vital energy balanced with more relaxed states. As a result, Nancy’s story was changing! Through her newfound awareness and stronger confidence, she was driven to reboot her small business part-time and became manager of the MS Walk in her community.
At the completion of her coaching program, she described her growth: “it’s like going from black & white to color.” Nancy stated that she is better able to recognize challenges as they arise and use her new skills to manage them in a way that feels liberating. She accepts that it’s “ok to be imperfect” and knows when to give her body the rest it needs. Her physical limitations are still there, but not nearly as intensely and her emotional state is “better than ever.”
From the foundation of our coaching relationship, Nancy was guided in developing her ability to trust and support her body’s needs, making healing possible. She gained valuable like skills that became manifest through managing her symptoms. She emerged stronger, wiser and more aware of how she is able to navigate future challenges with greater skill and ease.
To sum it up, this is an exciting time in health care. Being in the role of Health and Wellness Coach, allows for a deeper exploration and honoring of the many facets of human experience. Developing broader perspectives that include coming to terms with illness as a catalyst for growth, is a new chapter that includes all aspects of one’s story. In other words, the challenges each of us face, are unique. But the way of healing can be a gentle path led by the light of partnership, awareness, growth and acceptance.