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January 31, 2014, 12:00AM PT in Exam Preparation Blog  |  0 Comments

Health Coach Helper: Lesson 5

Health CoachHappy New Year! Passing your Health Coach Exam would be a great way to kick of 2014, wouldn’t it? At this point, we are halfway through the materials, so don’t stop now—you’re almost there!

With Chapters 4, 10 and 13 we are revisiting Relationship Building, Client Interviews and Goal Setting, which are all so important. By establishing rapport with your clients, they are more likely to feel comfortable disclosing what might be considered embarrassing information (weight issues, diet struggles, etc.) as well as their goals and expectations so that you can cater to their wants and needs in their program. This goes hand in hand with creating goals; you want to best understand this person so you can help him or her create a SMART goal that is personally meaningful. Finally, prior to beginning a program, we need to establish that it is safe for them to engage in physical activity. These steps build the foundation of a client-coach relationship, and identify any major factors that might affect their ability to engage in a program.

Here is a section-by-section breakdown of the most important parts of each chapter.

Key Points Chapter 4: Building Rapport:

-Understanding the Individual: Self-efficacy—how will you work with someone with low self-efficacy to help increase his or her motivation and adherence? Past experience—what has been successful (or not) in the past, and how can you use that to shape success in the future? Expectations—it’s important to understand your client’s expectations, AND to tell them yours so the client knows that it’s his or her responsibility to follow through.
-Communication Skills: Knowing how and why listening and empathy play an important role (expanded in Chapter 5)
-Environment: Knowing how to cultivate the appropriate physical and psychological environment to make a client feel comfortable
-Defining Program Success: While it’s important to continuously work toward accomplishing desired goals, success is not directly proportional to achieving it. For example, let’s say a client’s goal was to lose 40 pounds in six months and they only lost 25. However, they found a program that they love and will continue doing—that’s a HUGE victory! They may not have lost all the weight they had wanted to in that desired time frame, but they found something that they can continue doing to lose that last 15 pounds. Best of all they ENJOY it so you know it’s something they’ll want to keep as a part of their lifestyle, as opposed to just doing it temporarily to lose the weight.

Key Points Chapter 10: Initial Interview and Client Screening

-Importance of a Thorough Screening and Assessment: Be sure to explore these three areas: physical-activity levels, eating behaviors and psychological issues. Because eating habits can be rooted so deep, it’s important to recognize whether each client’s needs are solely within our scope of practice or if the services of a more qualified health professional is needed.
- Types of Obesity-treatment Programs: Understand the varying degrees of intervention needed for the different types of obesity treatment. The stepped-care model (Figure 10-1) provides a good flow chart of the progression of the type of program that might be necessary.
-Standards of Care for Weight-management Programs: Be knowledgeable about the Weight-loss Consumers’ Bill of Rights and its key recommendations, as well as the three criterion of the IOM for those beginning a weight-loss program.
-Screening Issues: Be sure to understand why a client may or may not be appropriate for that setting.
-Assessment Issues: Know the minimum evaluations you might perform: physical and psychological health, readiness to exercise, fitness parameters, motivation or readiness to change. In particular, the assessing exercise readiness section (PAR-Q and Risk Stratification) is crucial in determining whether someone is healthy enough to exercise. Because exercise does put stress on the body, it’s important to clarify that there are no underlying conditions that would put a client at risk for an injury or emergency situation.
If you’re struggling with this topic, one of our other study coaches, Belinda Thompson, wrote a really great blog about it: Everything You Need to Know About Risk Stratification.
-Behavioral Assessments: These tools are designed to help understand existing behaviors. In addition to operant conditioning (see Chapter 3), the concepts of behavioral excess and behavioral deficit are used. Finally, being familiar with the tools for behavioral assessment and effective communication strategies is important. Keep in mind that asking a client to disclose too much information before they’re ready may be counterproductive.

Key Points Chapter 13: A Realistic Approach to Goal Setting

-Why Goals Are Essential  and Realistic Goals Begin With a Past, Present or Future Emphasis: Effective goal setting is an essential part of success because it helps clarify what actions are needed to accomplish what the clients wants to achieve. Also, if they do not have something to strive toward, they may relapse. Goals must be meaningful (using the SMART approach) and can either have a focus from the past, present or future.
-Why Do Clients’ Goals Matter?: This may sound like a silly question, but it’s so important to know that these goals align with the client’s values and that you understand the roles both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play in long-term adherence.
-Big Changes Come From Small Goals: Be familiar with how to set small, attainable goals to boost client morale and confidence. This circles back to the topic of self-efficacy—by starting will small attainable goals, the client will feel more and more optimistic about taking on larger challenges as he or she progresses through the program. As the saying goes, “If you take care of the process, the result will take care of itself.”
-Realistic Goals, Realistic Obstacles: Perceived obstacles are very important to address. Some obstacles are internal (beliefs, attitudes, opinions, etc.), while others are external (time, family, responsibilities, etc.), so it’s important to develop solutions to these in advance.
-Everyone is Good at Something: Use this section as a tool to help your clients understand that making these changes to their lifestyles is the same as learning any new skill—it takes time!

The next blog will cover Chapters 11 and 12 and talk about some physiological assessments we use. This is a topic that I have worked with for years as a trainer and I know can be a little intimidating. My goal is to break down the who, what, where, when and why of assessments, so look for that soon.

If you have any feedback on these blogs or if you have a study question, comment on this blog or contact our Resource Center at 800-825-3636, Ext. 796, where our Study Coaches are attending the line Monday-Friday 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. PST.

By Jessie Newell


Jessie Newell is a Study Assistance Representative at ACE. Jessie earned her B.S. in Kinesiology: Fitness Specialist from San Diego State University and ACE Personal Training Certification in 2012. She also earned a Basic Hatha Yoga and Let It Go Yoga Certification through Let It Go Yoga in Santa Barbara, CA. She loves to learn and enjoys being continuously challenged by the questions of those she works with. The choice to pursue health and fitness stems from her two passions: helping people and science! Since she was 19 she worked in a Wellness Center setting and she saw the positive impact that an active lifestyle has on one’s well-being in action, and because of these, aspires to help others find their happiest and healthiest self through her knowledge in the wellness field.