How to Become a Global Health Coach

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As a graduate of the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program who lives in the UK, I knew when I was considering enrolling that there were lots of possibilities and avenues in health coaching to pursue after graduation.

And since becoming an enrollment advisor for the program, I speak to individuals who are keen on becoming masterful health coaches. They share with me their passion for serving others and playing a key role in the transformation of healthcare outcomes, wherever they are based in the world—one conversation at a time!

I also hear their hesitations and concerns about joining a U.S.-centered program when they live outside the United States. These concerns are similar to the ones I was thinking about when enrolling, and fall into three broad categories:

  1. Practicalities: What are the practicalities and logistics of taking a course led by a U.S.-based faculty?
  2. Practicing: What is it like being a health coach—in real life—outside the United States?
  3. Possibilities: What are the career options as a health coach if I’m based outside the United States?

I call these the “three Ps.” 

In this article, I’m going to address three of the most common questions I receive from prospective international students who want to join the program and are based outside the United States.

These questions cover some aspects of the three Ps. But if you still have any questions about whether the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program is the right fit for you, I invite you to schedule a call with me or one of my enrollment advisor colleagues. We look forward to supporting you in making the right decision.

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What’s Your Motivation for Becoming a Global Health Coach?

Thinking of becoming a global health coach? Check out this article from health coach Eric Ho on the benefits of the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program for students based outside the United States. #changeagent #kresserinstitute

What are you thinking about as you’re considering becoming a health coach

  • If you’re already a health coach, how do you see this program enhancing your existing way of coaching?
  • How will you change people’s lives as a health coach?
  • What would being at the forefront of the healthcare revolution in your location and for your community offer you?
  • In five years’ time, as you reflect on your ADAPT-Certified Functional Health Coach (A-CFHC) qualification and the people whose lives you have transformed, what are you feeling? How does that fit in with your purpose and what is important to you?

The prospective students I speak to often talk about a desire to serve and help others. They have a deep sense of compassion and care. And they want to be on the vanguard of making a difference, of being a pioneer in Functional Health to help individuals be healthier.

If you’re wondering whether you’re suited to becoming a health coach, my colleague Will Welch has written an article about the qualities of a health coach that might be useful—you can find that here.

And if you’re ready to find out if the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program is right for you, click here. Our program can help you take the next steps in your global health coaching career.

What Are Your Concerns?

Whatever your motivations are, I suspect you may have some valid concerns about investing a substantial amount of money, time, and brainpower into becoming a health coach because you’re located outside the United States.

Prospective students tell me they are concerned about recognition of the ADAPT program, how relevant the program content is if they’re practicing as a coach in the UK or Hong Kong, or wherever they are located, and whether they’ll have to stay up in the middle of the night joining the three types of live sessions we have to offer (Instructor Sessions, Mentor Coach Sessions, Teaching Assistant Sessions).

Here are three of the most common questions that prospective students ask us. I hope the answers to these questions give you an insight into how the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program could be the right fit for you.

Becoming a Certified Health Coach if You’re outside the United States

Question 1: How recognized is the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program and the A-CFHC certification outside the United States? What’s the difference between A-CFHC and other credentials?

If you’re looking for a program that embodies “excellence,” you don’t need to look elsewhere! We are the premier health coach training program with a world-class faculty. When you join the 12-month training program and successfully complete the course, you’ll be eligible to apply to become an A-CFHC.

What Does the A-CFHC Certification Give You?

The A-CFHC certification itself is a recognition of the skills and experience you have gained throughout the program and demonstrates to your clients and your target audience that you have achieved the highest standards in health coaching. If you choose, you can also be listed in the ADAPT Health Coach Directory, where members of the public who are looking to work with a qualified health coach can find you.

As all masterful coaches will tell you, you don’t stop learning how to coach and become better at what you do. And it’s no different if you’re an A-CFHC.

As you continue to grow as a coach and build your coaching skills, you’ll be entitled to recertify every three years as an A-CFHC, provided you’ve satisfied certain continuing education and other requirements.

What about Recognition outside the United States?

We have a growing student and graduate base outside the United States. In my cohort alone, there are graduates from Europe, South Korea, South Africa, and Australia. I also had the pleasure of enrolling our first student from Ukraine!

As a graduate of the ADAPT program, you’ll join this vibrant, compassionate community of health coaches and will benefit from the shared learning and experience of operating in the collaborative healthcare model that Chris Kresser talks about in his book, Unconventional Medicine.

Not only is the A-CFHC certification recognized in the healthcare sphere, but health coach associations around the world are also establishing themselves to support the growth of health coaches and ensure standards for health coaches in each country are clearly set.

Health coach associations, like the UK Health Coaches Association (UKHCA) and Health Coach Alliance (HCA), are leading the way to bring professionalism, credibility, and opportunities for qualified health coaches in the UK and Canada and beyond.

Being a full member of a health coach association, like the UKHCA or HCA, is a public demonstration that you’ve reached the requisite skills and standards to become a full member. In a world where someone can apply, for example, for a four-week program and call themselves a “health coach,” this is a key way to distinguish yourself from coaches who do not have the in-depth training in the coaching skills, coaching psychology, and ethics necessary to become masterful coaches.

The ADAPT Health Coach Training Program is recognized by the UKHCA and the HCA as an “approved program.” That’s good news for you as it means that as a graduate of the ADAPT program, you can apply for full membership in those organizations and hold yourself out to the standards those organizations set for health coaches. You’ll also be featured in their public directories so individuals looking for a health coach where you are based can easily find you.

The Gold Standard of Recognition: National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC)

When I graduated from ADAPT and obtained my A-CFHC certification, I was committed to demonstrating to my current and future clients—as well as the healthcare practitioners I partner with—that I had reached the highest standards that are recognized in health coaching.

So in addition to the A-CFHC, recognized coaching credentialing bodies like the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) came to the top of my list.

The NBHWC has been collaborating with the (U.S.) National Board of Medical Examiners since 2016 and provides a robust board certification examination, which has led (at the date of writing) to more than 3,000 National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches who hold the NBC-HWC credential.

I sat for my four-and-a-half-hour National Board exam in February 2020, and am pleased to have passed. In fact, my ADAPT Health Coach Training Program cohort, which was the first cohort that was able to sit for the exam, obtained a 95 percent pass rate!

Why I Decided to Take the Exam Even Though I’m in the UK

In terms of independent assessment and rigor, the NBC-HWC is currently the only “gold standard” credential in health and wellness coaching. And for me, the demonstration of achieving that credential to my clients and practitioners I partner with is an important differentiating factor compared to other non-credentialed health coaches.

Again, the good news is that the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program is one of the few health coach programs recognized by the NBHWC as a “fully approved program.” That means that once you’ve graduated from ADAPT, obtained the necessary number of coaching sessions, and satisfied the other application requirements set by the NBHWC, you will be eligible to sit for the National Board exam, too.

What Does All This Mean in Practice for You?

Here’s what it boils down to:

  • You’ll be on the vanguard of the healthcare revolution.
  • You’ll be recognized as a coach with the highest level of education and training.
  • You’ll distinguish yourself from other coaches in a highly competitive market.

Enrolling in a U.S.-Based Health Coach Training Program

Question 2: How U.S.-centric is the ADAPT program? What will I need to do beyond the program to set myself up as a health coach?

The ADAPT program not only equips you with the coaching skills (in our “Art and Practice of Coaching” track) and Functional Health knowledge (in our “Functional Health” track) to be an effective health coach, but it also shows you how to establish and build your own business in the “Business and Professional Development” track.

The coaching skills you’ll learn through interacting with our world-class faculty and experienced Mentor Coaches and the Functional Health knowledge you’ll put into practice in the sessions with your Teaching Assistants are universal skills and knowledge that you will be able to apply wherever you decide to practice as a health coach.

For example, in my practice, I work with clients inside and outside the UK, including in the United States.

As for the Business and Professional Development aspects, there is a natural focus of parts of the course content and discussion in the live Instructor Sessions on U.S.-specific features. For example, you’ll learn about the different models that you can adopt to practice as a health coach: solo entrepreneur, in a collaborative healthcare model setting, or working for a healthcare organization. So you’ll discover how that works in the United States. For example, you might learn about the benefits of being a W-2 employee in the United States versus an independent contractor.

Although that example is U.S.-specific, the principles you’ll learn—much like in the Art and Practice of Coaching and Functional Health tracks—can be universally applied.

And what’s more, we have a vibrant community of students and graduates who are located all around the world. So if you have a question about being employed by a healthcare company in the UK—or any other question—there’ll be someone (perhaps like me!) who would be only too willing to help you solve your problem.

In short, you’ll learn the key foundational principles to apply in your business where you are based.

Meeting Live Session Requirements as an International Student

Question 3: I’ve heard about the “live session” requirements. Will I be expected to join a session in the middle of the night where I am? 

Our live sessions are one of the key aspects that distinguish the ADAPT program from other health coaching programs that are available.

Rather than paying for access to an expensive online video library, all the live sessions meant that when I graduated, I felt confident, equipped, and well-practiced to tackle the difficult situations that coaches encounter with their clients.

Why? Because I had already practiced so much real-life coaching during the program. 

It’s not a lot of use knowing about health and wellness if you can’t apply it in an effective way to help the people whose lives you want to impact. The ADAPT program equips you with the confidence to be a powerful coach with the foundations necessary to support your clients with their goals.

Here’s how it would work for you:

  • You’ll interact in real time with our Instructors, Mentor Coaches, and Teaching Assistants.
  • The Instructor Sessions allow you to learn from and ask live questions of leading experts in coaching, Functional Health, and business and professional development.
  • You’ll practice your coaching skills live in the Mentor Coach Sessions in small groups and under their supervision.
  • You’ll learn how to apply the Functional Health knowledge you learn in our live Teaching Assistant Sessions.
  • You’ll meet regularly with your fellow students in engaging webinars, group and individual coaching sessions, demos, roundtables, and Q&As.
  • You’ll also practice your knowledge and skills live with your fellow students in triads.

Building relationships with other students is an important part of the course experience, and the connections you make here will benefit you for years to come. Interacting live on video with your fellow students is an important way to build these bonds.

Coaching is about building your knowledge as well as skills, so the focus of the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program is very much on the “doing” and “being” of a health coach.

To get the most of the program, we have minimum attendance requirements for our live sessions:

  • Instructor Sessions: Attend a minimum of 50 percent live
  • Mentor Coach Sessions: Attend a minimum of 70 percent live
  • Teaching Assistant Sessions: Attend a minimum of 70 percent live

Attending the Live Sessions from a Different Time Zone

We’ve worked with students from more than 20 countries across multiple time zones. As there are Mentor Coach and Teaching Assistant Sessions every day at various times during the day, they shouldn’t be a problem attending live. The Instructor Sessions are at fixed times, so these may be more of a challenge.

We have lots of experience with students who—when looking at the program calendar—can’t attend the minimum number of live Instructor Sessions. In almost all these cases, there is a solution, so if you want to benefit from the live Instructor Sessions in the program, but can’t see how to schedule them, please click here to speak to an enrollment advisor. We can help you understand the ins and outs of the program and discuss your goals for your global health coaching career. 

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