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  • Writer's picturePenny Kehagioglou

Coaching for Prevention and Health Promotion

Updated: Jun 12, 2022

Around 1 in 3 people in the UK live with at one or more chronic conditions, at least 30% of of which are preventable or reversible using lifestyle changes. The best way to maintain good health is to be able to control own health using certain health-seeking behaviours.

Four health-seeking behaviours are summarised as follows:

· Knowing how to access resources about achieving optimum health

· Obtaining knowledge and adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours

· Being internally motivated to sustain healthy lifestyle behaviours

· Being able to access support to maximise goal achievements for optimum health

If individuals recognise the need and follow the above four health-seeking behaviours, it is likely that the end-result in terms of replacing old habits with healthy lifestyle habits will be maximised. If many individuals adopt same approach and peer support each other, then the benefits will be multiplied in terms of whole communities becoming healthier.

Health Coaching supports individuals adopt health-seeking behaviours through cultivating their internal motivation and personal purpose.

Starting with a personal purpose, health coaches can enable people to create their personal goal plan to achieve their optimum health. Often people do not want to change old habits because they cannot see the meaning of doing so. Health coaching attempts to see the bigger picture through the eyes of the individual coachees, empowering people to make decisions which serve their personal purpose. Understanding people’s personal history and experiences as well as the reasons for resisting change are first steps in the initiation of change behaviours.

Empathy and collaboration are values exhibited by health coaches that enable trust to be built between individuals and their coach.

Prioritising positive emotions through the individual-led creation and adoption of healthy lifestyle plans, including nutrition, exercise and emotional wellbeing plans, can increase the probability of long-term plan adherence. Resistance to change is seen as an opportunity for radical change and it is a prerequisite to change, as long as the reasons for resistance are explored and embraced. The role of the health coach as a compassionate collaborator is key. A coach-led exploration of one’s ambivalence to change can often help individuals identify and prioritise on their personal purpose. An empathetic approach to addressing resistance can support individuals go through the stage of change quicker and more effectively. Allowing individual autonomy to decision-making and normalising momentary lapses of behaviour can support a cognitive behaviour approach that individuals can have control of.

Using peer support and peer education tools to grow a community of health coaches can transform the health of communities and whole populations.

Health coaches play a key role in educating and creating capability within communities. Through the individual health-seeking behaviour adoption and personal health transformation comes a wealth of knowledge of tools and techniques to sustain health and wellbeing that can be used to influence others. The knowledge transfer through the communities of people who have been coached aims to penetrate the vulnerable people with no personal agency for change. Those people are often the ones who would benefit most from lifestyle change and health-seeking behaviour adoption.

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