quoteIn early 2010, Karen Lawson and Margaret Moore assembled a volunteer team of fourteen thought leaders and co-founders devoted to creating national standards and certification of health and wellness coaches as a key milestone in the professionalization and scale-up of a new evidence-based field. The original founders have collaborated vigorously for seven years and have volunteered thousands of hours as members of the board of directors and council of advisors of the National Consortium for Credentialing of Health & Wellness Coaches, renamed in 2017 as the International Consortium for Health & Wellness Coaching.

The first initiative in 2010 was an invitational two-day Summit in Wellesley, MA, funded by a generous grant from the Institute of Integrative Healthcare. The Summit aimed to develop a vision and consensus around a path to national standards. Nearly 70 representatives participated from coaching schools and associations, health and wellness professional organizations, universities, academic medical institutions, government agencies, and industry (e.g. disease management, health insurance, pharmaceutical). An energetic and inspiring appreciative inquiry process led to a consensus on our vision and goals, and formation of project teams devoted to important initiatives including Certification & Competencies, Training & Education, Coaching Research, Reimbursement, Government Relations, and Public Relations.

Over the next two years, project teams met to develop and further these initiatives. Vigorous discussions ensued on the backgrounds (education and credentials), definition, roles (e.g. profession, professional, job or role), tasks and competencies, i.e. what a health and wellness coach does and how, and scope of practice, for example how coaching is differentiated from other health and allied health professions, and how coaching processes and education on disease prevention and healthy lifestyle education are integrated. Our most fruitful accomplishment was to navigate a winding path toward consensus among many individuals and organizations representing widely divergent viewpoints.

To formalize the agenda and position for fundraising for the implementation phase, a non-profit legal entity was formed. Since then we marched forward to complete a best practices Job Task Analysis process to define the job, tasks, knowledge, and skills of a health and wellness coach, along with the prerequisites, and training and education needed to achieve a minimum performance level.

Then in 2016, NCCHWC and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) signed a historic agreement for the development and launch of a national board certification for health and wellness coaches in 2017. To learn more, please download the press release here NCCHWC/NBME Press Release.