What is a Health Coach?

Health coaching is a high demand and rapidly growing field consisting of highly trained health professionals who are engaged in helping clients achieve better health. These professionals often hold a college degree plus additional training and certification in the psychology of health behavior, evidence based practices to support clients through change, and public health education.

Health and Wellness Coaches...

  • Use evidence based approaches to support clients in improving their health
  • Apply strategies from health behavior psychology to help clients achieve lasting health behavioral changes
  • Are credentialed members of the healthcare community, supporting and complementing the work achieved by care providers
  • Specialize in helping patients achieve management of chronic conditions such as diabetes or arthritis
  • Work in medical offices, hospitals, major corporations, and private practice to support health in a variety of settings
  • Produce significant effects on patient outcomes, according to scientific research

When health coaches are involved with addressing chronic health conditions, outcomes improve. Clinical research demonstrates that health coaches can boost weight loss, assist in smoking cessation, and improve test results for patients with diabetes or poor cardiovascular health (Merrill, 2010; Terry, 2011; Wolever, 2010; Vale, 2003).

Health Coach Training

The term "health coach" is not regulated and as a result, anyone can call themselves a health coach. This is problematic because the coach may be highly trained or completely untrained. National board certification distinguishes a fully trained and experienced health coach from others using the title. The National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) have "pioneered science-based training, education, and research of health and wellness coaches" and offer the only recognized board certification in the United States.

Health and wellness coaches who achieve board certification have completed a rigorous education and documented extensive experience using evidence based approaches to help clients achieve real and lasting change.



Merrill, R. M., Aldana, S. G., & Bowden, D. E. (2010). Employee weight management through health coaching. Eating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity15(1-2), e52-e59.

Terry, P. E., Seaverson, E. L., Staufacker, M. J., & Tanaka, A. (2011). The effectiveness of a telephone-based tobacco cessation program offered as part of a worksite health promotion program. Population health management14(3), 117-125.

Vale, M. J., Jelinek, M. V., Best, J. D., Dart, A. M., Grigg, L. E., Hare, D. L., ... & McNeil, J. J. (2003). Coaching patients On Achieving Cardiovascular Health (COACH): a multicenter randomized trial in patients with coronary heart disease. Archives of internal medicine163(22), 2775-2783.

Wolever, R. Q., Dreusicke, M., Fikkan, J., Hawkins, T. V., Yeung, S., Wakefield, J., ... & Skinner, E. (2010). Integrative health coaching for patients with type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes Educator36(4), 629-639.


Meet Dr Hawkins

Dr. Hawkins brings 20 years of expertise in the integrative health field to her role as Executive Director of the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences and the leader of our clinical research team.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Health from Union Institute and University, a Master’s Degree in Health Education & Promotion from the University of Alabama, a post-graduate certificate in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a PhD in Health Research from Middle Tennessee State University, and is completing the post-doctoral Global Scholars Research Training Program at Harvard Medical School. She also holds certifications in numerous natural health fields including aromatherapy, aromatic medicine, herbalism, childbirth education, and labor support.