Health and Wellness Coaching

“The courses I completed and the skills I learned as a coach, as well as the coaching I received while practicing with my peers and mentors, truly changed me for the better.”

Why did you choose our school for your academic program?

My undergraduate degree is in psychology and I had considered counseling in the past. A close friend of mine had recently enrolled in the acupuncture program and when I talked to her about her experiences, I could sense this was a special place. I was very interested in learning more about integrative health, and I could see that Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) was unique and advanced in this rapidly expanding field. When I learned about the Master of Arts in Health and Wellness Coaching on MUIH’s website I wanted to examine it further, so I attended an open house and a coaching café on campus to learn exactly what coaching is. What really clicked for me were these facts: coaching is rooted in positive psychology; is about empowering people to become their best selves; the focus of coaching is on the present and future and not the past; and that studies were showing the incredible power of coaching to facilitate sustainable change. This knowledge, as well as experiencing the positive and collaborative atmosphere at the MUIH campus, led me to apply.   

What aspects of this education do you most value and why?

While I was excited to pursue a master’s degree in an emerging field, what I was not expecting was how much my schooling would change my life. The courses I completed and the skills I learned as a coach, as well as the coaching I received while practicing with my peers and mentors, truly changed me for the better. I discovered that I had been incredibly hard on and demanding of myself, which was keeping me from reaching my true potential. Over time, to my surprise, I found that accepting myself with compassion gave me a significant shot of self-confidence and courage, which was ultimately life-changing. Knowing that I can help others improve their lives in the same way is invaluable.

What drew you to an integrative health profession?

I grew up with a mother who used natural remedies to treat symptoms whenever possible because that’s how she was raised. As a young mother, I was skeptical because my children’s pediatricians didn’t endorse them and I admittedly put Western medicine – and all the science behind it – on a pedestal. At the time, I believed that natural remedies were outdated and replaced with more modern methods. As I started reading about studies that backed these natural remedies I began to realize that, in so many cases, these treatments were very often effective and didn’t have the side effects of pharmaceuticals. When I thought back to things my mother had used, they did help — oftentimes better and safer than the drugs that took their place. Around that time I decided to seek acupuncture treatment for various issues I was experiencing and found it to be incredibly helpful, with the added bonus of helping to relieve my stress – and all this with no side effects! I was really intrigued. I began to realize the power of utilizing everything there is out there in the world while still incorporating Western medicine when necessary. The wisdom traditions of using nature, energy, and a healing presence to treat and often prevent disease are incredibly powerful. Although these traditions were pushed aside at one point, they are coming back into focus again as we progress even further.

Describe your area of specialization or the focus of your practice and why that has captured your interest.

In my private coaching practice, my focus is helping people to cultivate their self-compassion and self-confidence. As you might guess from my previous answers, my personal growth during my program was ultimately what led me to my niche. Actually, it is more accurate to say that my niche found me. Helping people to cultivate their self-compassion opens the door for them to achieve their goals, because the often paralyzing fear of failure is more manageable than most believe. People learn to become far more resilient through the power of self-compassion.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Walking across the stage to receive my master’s degree in health and wellness coaching diploma on the same night when my best friend walked for her master’s degree in acupuncture felt amazing. We were college undergraduate roommates years ago and that was really special. I am also proud of receiving the Provost’s Award for research and scholarship, submitted at the research symposium in 2014 together with two of my classmates. I earned my Associate Certified Coach (ACC) certification with the International Coach Federation in December of 2015, and I’m happy to have achieved that goal.

Looking forward, how do you see your role and that of your discipline contributing to the evolving field of healthcare?

I see health and wellness coaching as becoming a natural and necessary part of health care. As studies emerge about the effectiveness of coaching to help people reach their health and wellness goals, and as people are able to make sustainable lifestyle changes with the help of health and wellness coaches, the implications this has on our current, mostly disease-focused model of health care is huge. Coaching helps us get out of our own way to live healthier and happier lives. Doctors don’t have the time to work with clients with the depth that coaches do. Doctors and coaches can work together to make a much more effective and powerful opportunity for clients to make real changes. The implications with regard to healthcare costs are obvious. Coaching is currently not a licensed profession, which is concerning, since anyone can take a short “health coaching” course and say they are a health coach. Along with many MUIH graduates, I’m currently studying to take the first-ever sitting of the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) exam in September 2017. Those who earn this credential will be National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches. I’m hoping this will give more credibility and recognition to the field of health and wellness coaching, furthering its reach within the health care arena.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’m excited to see increasing integrative health care practices in my area and in many areas of the world. I’m proud to be a part of it and to be able to teach others what I’ve learned, so that I can help expand the knowledge of my field. I’m so grateful for my learning at MUIH and the ways I have grown as a result.