Diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disease or severe Food Allergies?

5 Actions to Take After You Leave Your Doctor’s Office

Diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disease or severe Food Allergies?

5 Actions to Take After You Leave Your Doctor’s Office

Note: I removed the image of my certificate because for some reason the formatting doesn’t work here.

Why should you care if I am a Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach?

Isn’t my background as a Registered Nurse and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor enough to provide the kind of care and services that people are looking for these days? Friends tease me all the time: “That’s a lot of letters you have behind your name!”

Those are great questions that I think all Health Coaches should be prepared to answer in regards to what they are already offering in terms of credentials and education. Health Coaching as a buzz word is relatively new, emerging in the 1990’s. Compared to the field of medicine, Health Coaching is a younger field. To enter it, most certification programs for Health Coaching hold minimal requirements: 18 years of age or older and hold a college degree or work equivalent . You take a course either in-person or online and complete quizzes and homework, receive mentoring and guidance from coaches advanced in the training of coaches, take an examination and pass the course.

And that is the more official route. However, in the world of online coaching, there are those who can call themselves health coaches while doing what they can to build their reputation. Based on reputation as a Counselor, I could have taken a different route than seeking board certification. And that would have been perfectly OK to do, if it wasn’t for something more I wanted to be able to do for a broader number of people.

The National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches and the National Board of Medical Examiners began certifying health coaches in 2016. I mention this because I am not surprised when people ask me what exactly a Health Coach is and what those who call themselves a Health Coach do under their scope of practice. If people don’t even know what Health Coaches do, will they care about whether or not the coach is board certified?

More importantly, I don’t blame people for pigeon-holing Health Coaches into the roles of Food Police and Boot Camp Leader, if all they see is short video clips of “What I get to eat” alongside, “Here’s my Workout of the Day!”

In the post, I’ll bring you up to speed with what has happened since I preparing for the NBHWC exam in November 2023 and now as I use what I learn on myself, my clients while developing resources for an evolving community.

So, What Has Imei Been Up To?

After nearly 24 years as a therapist, I have known that one of the possible outcomes of insight-oriented behavioral health treating a variety of mental health issues is that a client can walk away with a lot of insight but little practical understanding of how to apply that insight in their life.

In effect, you may walk away saying, “I understand myself better. And I don’t really know what to do with what I know.” BTW, this is also true of our experiences as we leave the doctor’s office: you find out more about what’s going on, but you might not know what to do with what you found out! Therapy is perhaps at best 90% insight-oriented work and 10% “So what now?” coaching, yet counselors cannot bill health insurance for therapy that is exclusively coaching and devoid of treatment.

The way the U.S. medical and mental health care models work often send people home with INFORMATION and not as much ACTION. Coincidentally, my counseling clients would often talk about this at the start of therapy of me, asking if there is some way to introduce more actionable steps into their treatments plans, as this was missing from their previous work with other therapists.

I am not bad mouthing my esteemed colleagues in the mental health profession. Within a 45 minute session, the number of elements we are covering with our clients is mind-boggling at times. Instead, I have a lot of compassion and understanding. At the same time, I am not surprised how you as a client want to be able to walk out the door with memorable action points, cognitive homework, and skills and practices that can help you attend to your mental health.

By the way, same for Health Coaching. Because of the process of Health Coaching involves the co-creation of a plan to attend to your health, you absolutely should be clear on your action steps at the end of a meeting with your Health Coach

For one, when something is not working in your life and your body and mind starts talking to you, you might do any number of the following:

  • Ignore the problem and hope it goes away
  • Ask your friends and family for their opinion
  • Make an appointment with a healthcare provider to get a professional opinion
  • Look up anything you can find on TikTok, Google, or ChatGPT just short of medical advice

I took an interest in Health Coaching around 2013 when my own physical health took a heavy hit. It’s natural to want actionable items to help you take the next step on improving your health.

To address my own desire to formally offer Health Coaching as a service that could stand side by side with Counseling, I decided to pursue a Nutrition Coaching certificate (May 2022), a Master Health Coaching program (April 2023), and National Board Certification for Health and Wellness Coaches (Nov 2023). Since 2023, I’ve added Health Coaching programming to the list of services I provide:

  • Individual and Couples Therapy
  • Clinical Supervision (LMH-CA)
  • Presentations at conferences and clinics (CEU’s and general Health and Wellness)
  • Podcasts and Webinars
  • Master Health Coaching (3-6 month, 1 year, and short-term “laser focus”)
  • Free video resources on Social Media

In the near future, I will create written resources and video production in my niche areas.

Somehow, i made the time to train to climb Kilimanjaro in October 2023 and still study for the exam.

But Imei, Why Should I Care if My Coach is Board Certified?

Many of the people I have rubbed shoulders with during the process to become Board Certified have already been Coaches for awhile. Some of them have fantastic testimonials from satisfied clients. They are solid coaches that are reliable, professional, and experienced. I asked them why they were seeking Board Certification. Here are some of their answers:

What Board Certification should represent to you:

  • Highest national standard of care and ethics in the field
  • Dedication to continuing education
  • Professionalism and reputation
  • Science-based programming that relies on proven track record best practices
  • Client-centered coaching
  • Time being mentored by other coaches to deepen their practice

What Board Certification ALSO means for you (even if you didn’t know this)

  • The greater medical profession can provide directives that Board Certified Health Coaches follow to support you, and your HSA/FSA dollars may be used.
  • Medicare will now cover the costs of Health Coaching involving the top five chronic health conditions (see your state’s requirements)
  • Board Certification is often required by corporations hiring Health and Wellness Coaches, which opens doors for the kinds of offerings I believe our businesses and healthcare entities are wanting to provide their employees

Even though I’ve broadened my reach to include and go beyond those in the community addressing food allergies, chronic illness, and autoimmune illness, I stand with my fellow AIP coach colleagues who have also sought NBC-WHC certification. We see this as a necessary pathway to build our reputations as reliable coaches in the “Wild West” of various people in the health coaching space.

I have been humbled and encouraged in this part of my career path, even during a time of economic uncertainty, rising inflation, and horrific humanitarian crisis. All of this work has caused me to put other things on pause, and I know some of you have noticed – less posts, no new recipes, and my email mailings (goal was four mass emails a year) were sacrificed to finish all this initial work to get board certified.

And if you want to stay up with the latest, feel free to follow me on Instagram @everydaywithimei.

Diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disease or severe Food Allergies?

5 Actions to Take After You Leave Your Doctor’s Office

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