Portrait of young health coach sitting at office with arms crossed in front of computer while looking at camera and smiling.Your clients come to you for many reasons—to relax, reduce stress and benefit from the power of touch. Touch is soothing and healing on many levels. Through touch, oxytocin, the bonding hormone, is released. This leads to a sense of peace and calm spreading throughout the body.

Your clients appreciate your healing skills as a massage therapist, but what if you could offer them more? You can, by becoming a health coach.

Health coaches help clients by educating and motivating them to achieve optimal health and wellness. As a massage therapist with a health coaching certification, your clients would have access to expertise, offered by you—that goes far beyond hands-on health care.

Portrait of smiling health coach using headphone and listening music while typing at keyboard in her workplace.What Health Coaches Do

A health coach offers guidance and inspiration to make changes in clients’ behavior. By educating clients to make step-by-step shifts in diet and lifestyle, better energy, overall health and wellness are achieved.

Simple suggestions such as better nutritional choices, starting an exercise routine and stress reduction can markedly impact the health and wellness of your clients. A health coach is also a mentor who empowers clients to take responsibility for their health and lifestyle choices and supports them while implementing these changes.

Common areas where a health coach can help clients include weight loss and weight management, food cravings, stress management and digestion.

A health coach does not take the place of a medical practitioner; rather, a health coach serves as the bridge between the client and medical professional. This is accomplished by developing strategies to enforce real, lasting lifestyle changes to enhance the client’s overall health and well-being.

A health coach does not diagnose, treat or take responsibility for bringing about changes in a client’s life; rather, a health coach supports and guides progress toward lifelong balance and health.

Most health coaching programs provide skills and coaching on the four models of coaching, including one-on-one, group, corporate and web-based coaching. The art of listening and mindfulness skills are critical to creating collaborative ways to resolve issues and help choose the most manageable steps in the client’s behavior.

Life coach concept word cloud backgroundA Growing Field

I believe the Western approach to health care is no longer a feasible or sustainable way to practice medicine. Some studies show that practitioners are burned out, while patients are tired of increasing premiums and decreasing quality of care.

A 2015 American Consumer Satisfaction Index report showed that consumer satisfaction scales were at the lowest in a decade. People are searching for complementary and integrative health care professionals to guide them to a higher quality of life.

In short, there is a huge disconnect between the present system and the patient. With only seven minutes on average per patient visit, many practitioners feel forced to hand out prescriptions rather than address the patient’s core problem. Many of these prescriptions could be avoided if only a few lifestyle changes were made.

A recent report by the American Heart Association, for example, stated that more than 80 percent of heart disease—the number-one cause of death in the U.S.—could be prevented with lifestyle choices.

Two young bloggers sitting at coffee shop, while talking each other.The Power of Trust

As a massage therapist, you already have a deep connection and trust with your clients: They trust your healing ability, compassion and knowledge.

Many of your clientele may be creeping into their 50s, 60s and beyond, and are looking for ways to age more gracefully and live life to its fullest. As a certified health coach, you will have the tools to guide them to achieve these goals, motivate them and keep them accountable.

In addition, the added credibility of having a health coaching certification credential behind your name further heightens the value of your knowledge and expertise.

This is a great time to enter the health coaching industry. Here are four reasons for that:

First, due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), companies with 50 or more full-time employees will now be penalized with a tax penalty if they do not provide health insurance to their full-time employees. These companies obviously would like to decrease the rising costs of employees’ premiums. Thus, many companies are now hiring health coaches to implement wellness programs to achieve better health for employees, resulting in lower premium costs.

Second, insurance companies are demanding that companies and corporations utilize more preventive health care measures for serious medical conditions, including diabetes, obesity and hypertension. In fact, at least one insurance company is offering up to a 15-percent discount if corporate employees agree to wear a fitness tracking device which monitors their calories burned, distance walked and quality of sleep, as CNN Money reported recently.

Third, as complementary therapies are increasingly incorporated into mainstream medical settings, the need increases for health coaches with specific stress-reduction techniques, such as massage therapists, to partner with practitioners to reduce the stress level of their patients. And we all know, stress is the number-one reason patients see a physician.

Fourth, every day in the U.S., more than 10,000 people turn 65—a trend that will continue until 2030, according to the Pew Research Center. The baby boomer generation—which has been on the leading edge of acceptance of complementary therapies—has already reached more than 70 million members, and many will seek out health coaches to improve their health and wellness.

Additionally, consumers of all ages are choosing holistic health care and products to take their health into their own hands. For example, according to a recent survey by Women’s Marketing, American women invest $125 billion in their nutrition and $40 billion in complementary medicine.

Coaching Programs

There are many health coaching programs available, which range from three- to six-month online courses to in-depth, year-long, nutrition-focused programs. Costs of programs range from a few hundred dollars to $20,000. Educational requirements vary as well.

The field of coaching has increased tremendously over the past decade. According to the 2016 International Coaching Federation Global Coaching Study, approximately 53,300 professional coaches were in business worldwide as of 2016, compared with 2,100 professional coaches in 1999. The average annual income of any type of coach in North America is $61,900.

One attractive part of becoming a health coach is the ability to have a flexible schedule—be it within an office setting or a home practice—so you have more control over your hours.

Also, by becoming a health coach, personal development will naturally occur as you engage in introspective exercises, including setting personal goals and facing your fears. These exercises will definitely stretch your comfort zone.

Are You Ready?

As a massage therapist and certified health coach, you will work with men and women who want to place top priority on maintaining their well-balanced physical and mental health. The only real question now is whether you take the next step for incredible personal and career growth as well as optimal health for you and your clients.

Are you ready to connect and become a certified health coach?

About the Author

Diana Hoppe, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist, is the founder of Amazing Over 40 Inc., a health coaching certification program for men and women focusing on health after the age of 40. She is also an author and speaker who has been featured on a number of TV shows, including The Dr. Oz Show.