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Coaching to Flourish #081: All About Health & Wellness Coaching

July 20, 2023 by Coach Training EDU

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In Coaching to Flourish #081, our host Raj Anderson is joined by CTEDU founder John Andrew Williams to discuss a major trend in coaching, the great interest and potential available within Health and Wellness Coaching. They explore what it means to be a credentialed coach, profound shifts from experiences as clients, and advice for those interested in becoming a Health & Wellness Coach.

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[Raj Anderson] Welcome everyone to our Coaching to Flourish podcast, and I'm your host, Raj Anderson, Executive Life Coach and Coach Assessor. And I'm here with John Andrew Williams, who's the founder of Coach Training EDU. And John was just sharing things that he is planting. What have you been planting? It sounds like you're planting all kinds of things - physically, mentally in business. 

[John Andrew Williams] Lavender has been my most recent thing. I've just found, I've been in it. I've been so in it. I was thinking this morning, I have to come to terms with, I am a gardener. I never thought of myself as a gardener, but yeah, I'll take on that hat. I've planted grapes, I've cultivated grapes, I've got them growing. Did research on how to get the vines to grow across the trellis and everything like that. And then now lavender, and I've been doing research on lavender, the types of lavender, the soil pH, all that kind of stuff.

I realize when I get into something, I get into something. I dig until, I get to a point where I feel like can thrive and then I move on to the next thing. 

[Raj Anderson] What is it that you love about planting and growing things? 

[John Andrew Williams] I deeply enjoy looking at, being with a plant that's thriving. Where I just know that you just see the new growth. You can tell that the plant is healthy and happy. I deeply enjoy the health and happiness of beings around me. Which very similar to coaching field, very much so. That's why I myself got into coaching. I got into it from a client standpoint. I think there's certain magic that happens in coaching sessions where you get to process things in the background. You have a space where you can process your life out loud with someone who's curious, who's not gonna judge it. And then that processing clears up energy for you to thrive. And I know that there are periods of time in my life when I have a coach, periods of time when I don't. Periods of time when I do have a coach are just better. They're better. Full stop. 

So I think it all ties together, right? It's this idea of thriving and flourishing, and looking at this lavender thinking, this lavender is, it's really cool. It's a really cool variety. I know I have the right pH soil for it, I've in watering it on the schedule that it loves it, and it's beautiful. And there's something very satisfying about that, that feels very similar to a very good coaching session. 

[Raj Anderson] Thank you for sharing that, John. And I love the connections that you are making around thriving and flourishing. I have some questions for you today, even around the coaching industry itself, and how it is flourishing and growing. And in particular, around niches in coaching. So what are some of the growing niches that you are seeing in coaching? 

[John Andrew Williams] Yeah, a lot of people are contacting us mostly interested in health and wellness fields. That seems to be the thing I'm noticing the most, that's different from, let's say five years ago. The big difference there has been the health board certification, and that's an organization that's been founded, I don't know, three years ago now. Ashley would know the background there, or you know, the exact date of getting that put together. 

That is extremely interesting because it's now starting to tie in, different insurance companies are accepting coaching sessions if someone's working with a doctor. It's tying coaching to the medical field and allowing for insurance to pay for coaching. And I think what they're finding is that people have coaching sessions by a credentialed coach, that does make a difference in the bottom line numbers that come out of, you know, that patient. 

It's very similar to the idea of what happened when we started working with the University of Oklahoma and we had a very clear line between, okay, advisors get coaching sessions - advisors are trained as coaches, they work with students, then you have a difference in retention and enrollment, engagement. Once you have these very clear lines of value, this is where, it can operate on scale. 

So I think one of the biggest trends in the coaching field is, these kinds of events are happening. Where people, organizations with money, with resources, are realizing coaching works. Let's implement it. Let's find ways to do it. And once this happens, then I think the field is eventually going to get regulated by a state. Now - you have money lines like this, regulation follows. So I think now we're setting the territory and conditions for some sort of state regulation to happen, which will only increase organizations hiring coaches, putting together these coaching programs, because now you have the legal protections of regulation from a state level. It makes everything - we're watching. We are literally watching the birth of, an official birth of a new industry. 

[Raj Anderson] That's exciting. It's a big deal for coaching. 

[John Andrew Williams] Yeah. It's something that I feel like I've had a front row seat at for a while, and now it's starting, like the ride is starting to speed up, you know what I mean?

[Raj Anderson] Why else do you think there are the trends in health and wellness coaches in particular? 

[John Andrew Williams] The pandemic was something that accelerated all of this. To degrees that I saw, in terms of the level of interest that came at different points in the pandemic. And now it just feels like there's just a rush, like a tidal wave of interest in the field in the last three years. And it's no longer, people are unaware of what coaching is. It's more they've heard about it. It's now in the territory of, there still are some misconceptions, that people think of coaching as more as advice giving, or somehow you have an expertise in what needs to happen next, when it's almost the exact opposite.

So I feel like now the field is moving into awareness, but there are certain myths that are going to get cleared up fairly soon. I think people think of it more like training sessions, like going to the gym. Or counseling, where you actually have, this is advice, this is the diagnosis, this is the thing you need to do next. 

I could see that also, like you just follow the trend line, what's most likely gonna happen is there's gonna be more awareness around the field, and more awareness of this is what a credentialed coach means, versus a non-credentialed coach. And I've worked with both. I've worked with people who are very good subject experts, they call themselves coaches in some degree, they might have more of a consulting bent to them. And then I've worked with coaches who are ICF accredited, just coaching. The difference of working with an ICF, just coaching. It's amazing. Like, it's different. 

And this to me is where I feel like accreditation really, truly matters. Like it's not a theoretical, it's nice to have, you don't really need it. No, no. If you really wanna be the top of the game, you need to have it. If you're serious about it, you need to be credentialed, either through the health board or the ICF. So this is where I've found my long journey to settling into this spot. But I'm fully here. 

[Raj Anderson] And what's the differentiator for you in that type of coaching? 

[John Andrew Williams] These are good questions, Raj. It's fun to process this because I've just recently have two different kinds of these sessions. 

Okay. Differentiator one. We'll start with the ICF and Health Board. The whole 45 minute session was completely centered on me, and at no point in time did my concentration or focus ever shift away from my world, what I needed to process. The insights that I was having, the direction that I needed to go in. And at no point in time did I feel like I needed to do any mental, emotional work to take care of my coach, or to help my coach go in a direction that was useful for me outside of his just directly asking me like, okay, so where are we going? You know, like these are the choices. Where do you wanna go? 

Working with the other coach, the non-ICF credentialed coach, it was still helpful. It was still good. But it was maybe 10 to 20% advice giving, and I found myself arguing against that advice. It was maybe 5% of oh, this reminds me of another client that had this situation going on, this is how this relates. Another 5% of, hey, this is like what, here's what else I can do. Or here's the other service that we might wanna add into this. And then maybe 10% of paraphrasing a little bit. 

So if you add all of those up, what is that, like 25, 35%, somewhere in there, that felt like I needed to manage in a different way. In over a 45 minute session, different break points, when a client has to manage those different elements before the focus comes directly back on them, those start to add up. And if you're charging as an executive coach what some of these executives coach charge like per hour, per session, you're talking 300 to a thousand to two thousand a session. You know, those minutes are expensive. Extremely expensive. 

And clients who are spending that money, if they experience what that first experience is like, where you end that session and you feel like it's masterful coaching - you've gone to like a true professional who delivered an experience that is a rare experience of you having the space to process everything you need to process with curiosity, and a safe, confidential, curious container, that has an impact on the rest of your week. 

And you rinse and repeat over a period of time, you start to feel like, you just feel different. It's subtle at first, but then the effect really starts to kick in. And it starts to become a certain clarity you see in situations that before may have been cloudy, that you may have had to rely on your friends and family and loved ones to process with you, until they get tired and they're like, stop talking to me already about it. Or you know, you feel like have to fight for the microphone. Or you have to like, I really need to sit down and process this thing with you - like, please don't. Go talk to your coach first. Gimme the ‘too long didn't read’ version. 

There are elements where it makes - I can feel it in my own self, where there is a certain space that you gain when you're working with a coach, cause you've processed what you need to process. The decisions you make are stronger and clearer and more crisp, and then that's the upward cycle that you can experience. Until you know, your coach gets too busy, they get hired full-time and they shut down their individual practice, which happened to me a couple times. I mean, it seems like almost every coach I work with at some point in time gets hired full-time and then they quit. It's happened two, three times. 

[Raj Anderson] Thank you John. And as I'm listening to you, I'm thinking about my own experiences as well. And you know, I've had health and wellness coaching where I felt frustrated, and I’ve shared that before. You know, where I'm being advised - you know, you could do this or you could do that. And my frustrations being, well, I know that. Actually know it. I'm not doing it. So, I don't need to be told what more I could be doing or what I need to do. It's not working for me. 

And I think when you are in that space with a coach who is ICF trained, who's holding that space to really help you understand you, and unlock you and your agency, it's very different to - kind of just, cookie cutter approach. I found myself resisting it. And I've heard coaching sessions where I've heard coaches coaching clients, and they’re focusing perhaps on the problem, or they're going into mentor mode or advisor mode, and you can sense frustration in the energy from the client, or the coachee as well.

[John Andrew Williams] Yeah, it's true. It's true. Sometimes when I get discouraged with something in the coaching world, business world, and then I go back and think about, are the fundamentals of this field correct? 

And there's something, it sounds odd, but there's something very satisfying when I listen to bad coaching. Because I realize, oh my goodness, there's so much opportunity for improvement here. There's so much. And it matters. We're not just putting together something that's like, oh, this is nice to have as a coach. Or this is something that, if you get to this high level of skillset, you know, it's this theoretical thing but there's no practical value to it. There's tons of practical value to that end theoretical point.

So when I hear bad coaching, I think, you know, it is oddly satisfying in the sense of, I know that what we're doing here provides tremendous value to society. The work that we're doing here, it fundamentally changes the way people interact with each other. And I do think that this kind of, this approach, is going to be basic human training. It already is seeping into a lot of the way the corporations are working. 

And it is deeply satisfying and fulfilling to see different corporations use this kind of language, use this kind of approach in the development of programs for employees. And that clarity, and that space that's developed, it does have an impact on the whole feel of the whole organization, when organizations go this way. 

[Raj Anderson] I agree with you. There is that satisfaction. For me it's almost been that validation, because there have been times where you can't quite capture and explain to people sometimes the magic that can be created from coaching. I heard a coach say the other day, it can literally change the trajectory of somebody's life. I mean, that's what it did for me. I would not be here talking to you now if I hadn't had coaching. And I don't know which path I would've taken or what would've happened. 

So, it's beyond what's happening in that session, in that moment. It is literally unlocking people. And I've had clients say to me, or have gone through a program, this changed my life. I had no idea. I thought I was just coming on a leadership skills program, not a life transformation program.

[John Andrew Williams] Totally, totally. I know we sound like those people who are like, yay, we drank the Kool-Aid. It's amazing. 

[Raj Anderson] Yes. 

[John Andrew Williams] So what. Gotta do it. Gotta do it people. 

[Raj Anderson] So what guidance would you give John, to somebody who's interested in pursuing the niche of health and wellness coaching? 

[John Andrew Williams] I was talking to a friend yesterday, who owns a business here in Hood River. We were just chatting business. And I came up with this idea that I'm really excited to share, cause I feel like it encapsulates a strategy that I love. And the strategy is called ‘Dream and Try’. So the idea is, dream it. If there's a specialty you want, or if there's an idea of what you want to pursue, then absolutely, dream it. And then ask yourself, how could I try it out? Like, what's the test to test if this works or not? 

And I realized, that's what I've done. That's what a lot of coaches do. That is actually a very good strategy to try to figure out what you want to do in your life. Because the other side of that is, let's try to make it perfect before I do anything. Like try to make this idea of, let me pick the perfect specialty for me. Let me do all my research. Let me get like, find as much information as I possibly can. You can do that, but it's still a guess. It could be a very well-informed, well-researched guess, but it's still a guess.

It's much more efficient and effective in the long run to say, okay, here's my guess. Here's my best guess right now. Here is a test that I can run, and now let me gather data. So instead of like doing all the research and then making a guess, instead you're guessing, and then going out and gathering data. If you can find ways to do that efficiently without, you know, do it on a very small scale so you can try to get that data back as quickly as possible, that's what I would suggest as a strategy. 

So I wouldn't spend too much time trying to think or like, putting your imagination in future scenarios, as much as I would put time and energy into, let's say I'm gonna test at least three of them. How could I test at least three? Are those conversations with the target audience I wanna work with? Are those sessions? Is it me writing a one page website? Is it putting on a workshop? Is it going and talking to friends and family about, hey, this is the kind of specialty, you know, anyone in your life? How can I market to them? Those kinds of activities are what I would do, rather than sitting in my office trying to type out the perfect plan ahead of time. 

[Raj Anderson] And we were talking about experimentation when we last met as well. So I'm hearing experimentation again. 

[John Andrew Williams] It's been this book, ‘Algorithms to Live By.’ It's been rocking my world in the sense of like, the kinds of thinking that - the balance point between how much time should you spend organizing versus searching. Basically the bottom line is we spend way too much time organizing. Recency is actually a way of organization, as opposed to topic. So think about your papers, like if you organize them by month and year, regardless of if they were tax document or an invoice, or like whatever it is. You know, you just put 'em all in the month and year. That might be the most organized way of organizing all your files, rather than trying to sort them all according to type, right? 

So things like this, it really questions I think a couple of the fundamental narratives that we have about ourselves, the way we live our lives. This is what coaching does at its best. It looks at it, it identifies a narrative, it provides questions and curiosity about that narrative, and then you come away with tangible action things to try. Like, let's try it. And then look at the data. Does it work? Does it not work? Rinse and repeat. You know. 

[Raj Anderson] I love that. Rinse and repeat. The three E's stood out to me. If anyone knows me well, works with me, they know I like to put things into groups of letters, C’s and L’s. So the E’s that stood out to me as I was listening to you was, Experiment with it, Experience it, and then Evaluate it. There's probably another one you could add, I'm sure John. 

[John Andrew Williams] Oh, lemme think. 

[Raj Anderson] It feels like a loop. 

[John Andrew Williams] Maybe you think one more, one more E thing? For me, I want to add enjoyment to it. I've been looking at also being in a space of, what do I enjoy doing about this process right now? Where does it go to a space of joy? 

I've been looking at some of the workflows in the sales process, and there's an odd joy in being able to see a process and the flow, design a flow from front to finish the way that you would love to see it. And yeah, that's what I've been spending a lot of my time doing the last couple weeks. And coming on the other side, I feel empowered. It feels very empowering. To get in there and do the work that I've always wanted someone else to do, but I realized no, I really need to get in there and do it. And that process is then going to be - it feels like reaching a milestone of accomplishment, in terms of knowledge of a new system, it's brand new to me. 

Now we can take that knowledge and then apply it to all these other areas. I feel like all these breakthroughs. And it's very similar to coaching sessions when we have a breakthrough like this, it starts to reverberate in all the other areas of our life.

And you look at, you know, evolution and biology and the history of world, like the Cambrian explosion, where you have an organism that can now move, all of a sudden they take over the world, they're all over the place. Same thing with animals, plants. Same thing with our lives. We have an insight - look at it now. You know, humans can fly, was it 1914? Is that the first airplane, 1914? A hundred years later, we're up in the moon and things? Computers, 1990s, and now we have AI that can do these amazing things? 

I mean, same thing happens in our lives. These insights that we have that you get from coaching sessions, started to have a scaled, exponential impact on all the other areas of her life. And I think that's the true value proposition of coaching, is one insight can change your life forever. It changes the trajectory of a life. And that feels like a good place to stop. 

[Raj Anderson] Thank you, John. So I did hear that empowerment and enjoyment, and it does feel like closing this off with, doing more of what we enjoy. So thank you for creating this enjoyable space. I'm grateful to you and grateful to our listeners. Thank you for all your insight. 

[John Andrew Williams] Thanks Raj. You create amazing space. It's good to riff and play, and to get these ideas I've been thinking out. Appreciate it. Thanks everyone. 

[Raj Anderson] See all soon. Bye-bye.

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