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  • ACE Behavior Change Specialty Certification

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Develop Skills to Guide Sustainable Change

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*eBook compatible with desktops (Mac & PC), tablets and smartphones (iOS & Android) only. Cannot be printed.

Inspiring people to adopt new behaviors requires more than simply knowledge of behavior change philosophy or emotional intelligence. Upon becoming an ACE Behavior Change Specialist, you will possess the practical, hands-on skills needed to guide people toward behavior change in one-on-one, group and virtual settings. Through a comprehensive, interactive experience, you will learn from renowned experts and pioneers in the areas of psychology and coaching how to develop rich, productive relationships and then utilize those relationships to guide people toward long-term, lifestyle change.


Who is it designed for?

Completing the behavior change specialist program will help ACE Certified Health Coaches and professionals from healthcare, allied health, fitness, business and a wide range of other fields enhance the skills necessary to effectively coach people to sustainable behavior change.

How do I earn one?

To become an ACE Behavior Change Specialist, candidates must complete the seven education sections included in the accompanying interactive, digital learning platform. Each section incorporates curriculum and practical learning opportunities created by ACE and anchored in expertise from William R. Miller, Ph.D., founder of motivational interviewing; B.J. Fogg, Ph.D., director of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University and founder of the Tiny Habits® program; Dan Goleman, Ph.D., author of The New York Times best-sellers Emotional Intelligence and Focus; and Robert Biswas-Diener, Ph.D., renowned positive psychology expert.

Anyone may complete the Behavior Change Specialist Program, but only those who also hold a current NCCA-accredited certification or an equivalent professional credential will be recognized as an ACE Specialist. For a list of accepted pre-requisite credentials, click here.

After you complete all sections, the continuing education credits will be uploaded to your My ACE Account, which you'll create during the purchase process and use to access the ACE learning platform. The purchase price includes all materials and fees necessary to become a specialist, and your designation as a specialist will not expire. For more information, view our FAQs.

The ACE Behavior Change Specialist Program is approved for 2.5 ACE CECs. The program is also approved by the following organizations for continuing education hours:

  • ACSM
    25.0 CECs
  • CI
    25.0 Contact Hours
  • NCSF
    7.0 CEUs
  • NFPT
    1.5 CECs
  • NSCA
    2.0 CEUs
SECTION 1: COACHING FUNDAMENTALS

SECTION 1: COACHING FUNDAMENTALS
(ONLINE CONTENT, BOOK, PODCAST, VIDEO, ONLINE QUIZ)

In this section, you'll learn the fundamentals of coaching, defined as the art of communication with individuals or groups to help them achieve a goal. Discover how to establish a client-coach relationship and coaching plan, increase competency in emotional intelligence, acquire skills in structuring a coaching program, and learn to approach coaching from a strengths-based perspective.

Learn More »

Coaching Behavior Change

In the first section, you will explore the coaching fundamentals portion of Coaching Behavior Change. The content, written by practicing physician and obesity medicine specialist Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, explores fundamentals of the client-coach relationship and how to create a coaching plan, increase competency in emotional intelligence, acquire skills in structuring a program, and learn to approach coaching from a strengths-based perspective through the use of positive psychology.

Scope of Practice Podcast

Our first in a series of interactive podcasts features ACE experts discussing scope of practice for coaches alongside Billie Frances, MA, Board-certified Life Coach, licensed therapist and founder of Guiding Mindful Change.

Insight from Experts Series

Experience video-based sessions with two leading experts in emotional intelligence and positive psychology, Dan Goleman, Ph.D., author of The New York Times best-sellers Emotional Intelligence and Focus; and Robert Biswas-Diener, Ph.D., positive psychology expert, author and managing director of Positive Acorn.

Roundtable Discussion

Experience an in-depth, video discussion between Dan Goleman, Ph.D., author of The New York Times best-sellers Emotional Intelligence and Focus, and ACE Certified Professionals on the subject of behavior change. Topics include the concept of emotional intelligence and its four domains, and how to approach the client-coach relationship with competency in each area.

Online Quiz

The section quiz will gauge knowledge on material reviewed in Coaching Behavior Change, the podcast, Insight from Experts Series, and the practical applications. As with all other curriculum components, the multiple-choice quiz is housed within the ACE interactive, digital learning platform.

SECTION 2: AWARENESS RAISING

SECTION 2: AWARENESS RAISING
(ONLINE CONTENT, BOOK, PODCAST, VIDEO, ONLINE QUIZ)

In this section, you'll discover the predictable, though nonlinear, cycle of change that clients and patients experience. Coaching through all of the stages — beginning with awareness — demands the utilization of strategies and communication techniques that help people better understand and explore present states and future visions. You'll also learn how to help identify a current stage of change, employ techniques to help continue progress, and help clients and patients recognize whether and how a change should occur.

Learn More »

Coaching Behavior Change

In this section, you'll explore the first stage in the ACE cycle of change, a model of behavior change in which a client or patient experiences a nonlinear cycle of raised Awareness, Choice and Execution. You'll learn more about identifying the stages of change in your clients and patients, and techniques you can utilize to help them progress. You'll also explore how to identify potential ambivalence to change and how to help others become more fully aware of what their lives will be like once they adopt lifestyle change.

Stages of Change Podcast

To continue the podcast series, ACE experts discuss stages of change with James O. Prochaska, professor of psychology, director of the Cancer Prevention Research Center at the University of Rhode Island, and developer of the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change.

Insight from Experts Series

Our video-based series continues with insight from William R. Miller, Ph.D., founder of motivational interviewing. Enhance your understanding of the concept of motivational interviewing, and how and when to use open-ended questions, affirmation, reflective listening and summarizing when communicating.

Roundtable Discussion

Experience an in-depth, video discussion between William R. Miller, Ph.D., founder of motivational interviewing, and ACE Certified Professionals on the subject of behavior change. Learn more about when to use motivational interviewing with your clients, and how to put the technique into practice.

Practical Application

In this practical application, Billie Frances, MA, Board-certified Life Coach, licensed therapist and founder of Guiding Mindful Change, will help you to improve your own mindfulness through integration of meditation. As a coach, engaging in these types of practices can help you maintain a nonjudgmental approach to clients or patients, and be more aware of their emotions, thoughts and sensations.

Online Quiz

The section quiz will gauge your knowledge on material reviewed in Coaching Behavior Change, the podcast, Insight from Experts Series, and practical applications. As with all other curriculum components, the multiple-choice quiz is housed within the ACE interactive, digital learning platform.

SECTION 3: CHOICE

SECTION 3: CHOICE
(ONLINE CONTENT, BOOK, PODCAST, VIDEO, ONLINE QUIZ)

Section 3 utilizes a number of learning opportunities aimed at helping you explore the choice stage of change, which occurs after an individual has come to recognize that a behavioral change is warranted. Coaching clients through this phase requires strategies and communication techniques that help them set goals, plan for challenges, and establish a positive mindset. You'll learn about cognitive behavioral coaching, identifying strengths and barriers, and how you can guide all types of clients to establish attainable goals.

Learn More »

Coaching Behavior Change

In this section, you'll explore the stage of choice in Coaching Behavior Change, content written by Billie Frances, MA, Board-certified Life Coach, licensed therapist and founder of Guiding Mindful Change; practicing physician Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD; and other ACE experts. The coach's role in this stage is to help clients set the best goals to fuel and inspire change, recognize and rely on their own strengths, and maintain a positive tone as they prepare to embark on the journey to long-lasting behavioral change.

Cognitive Coaching Podcast

To continue the podcast series, ACE experts describe the concept of "the link is what you think" and its role in behavior change. The insight offers a straightforward method to understand the science and relationship between thought processes and behavior.

Roundtable Discussion

Learn more by experiencing an informative, video discussion between Robert Biswas-Diener, positive psychology expert, author and managing director of Positive Acorn, and an ACE Certified Professional. The discussion offers insight on how to apply the principles of positive psychology and strengths-based coaching to your sessions.

Practical Application

Our series of practical applications continue with an exercise led by Robert Biswas-Diener, positive psychology expert, author and managing director of Positive Acorn. Gain deeper insight by exploring the video, "What is Health?"

Online Quiz

The section quiz will gauge knowledge on material reviewed in Coaching Behavior Change, the podcast, Insight from Experts Series, and the practical applications. As with all other curriculum components, the multiple-choice quiz is housed within the ACE interactive, digital learning platform.

SECTION 4: EXECUTION

SECTION 4: EXECUTION
(ONLINE CONTENT, BOOK, VIDEO, ONLINE QUIZ)

Our learning experience continues with a section focused on helping you lead clients and patients through the execution stage of change, which occurs when they are ready to act. You'll learn how to develop strong plans through brainstorming, effective accountability techniques and how to respectfully and appropriately respond to reluctance. You'll also explore how to use adult learning techniques to fill knowledge gaps and how to evaluate plans.

Learn More »

Coaching Behavior Change

In this section, you'll explore the coach's role throughout the execution stage of change, which occurs when clients are ready to begin the challenging, yet rewarding task of making the changes necessary to achieve their goals. In Coaching Behavior Change, you'll explore more about how to prepare for action, and offer accountability, adult learning and evaluation, a valuable tool in ensuring your clients' actual behaviors are sustainable and match up to their desired behaviors.

Insight from Experts Series

Our video-based series continues with leading behavior scientist and founder of the Tiny Habits® program, B.J. Fogg, Ph.D., and professional coach Linda Fogg-Phillips. The two offer insight into how science and emotions affect the process of developing new habits, breaking bad habits, and coaching for successful behavioral change.

Roundtable Discussion

Experience an in-depth, video discussion between B.J. Fogg, Ph.D., and ACE Certified Professionals on the subject of behavior change. The discussion offers insight on the Tiny Habits program and how you can utilize it when leading all types of clients and patients to sustainable change.

Online Quiz

The section quiz will gauge knowledge on material reviewed in Coaching Behavior Change, the podcast, Insight from Experts Series, and the practical applications. As with all other curriculum components, the multiple-choice quiz is housed within the ACE interactive, digital learning platform.

SECTION 5: BEHAVIOR CHANGE STRATEGIES IN DIVERSE SETTINGS

SECTION 5: BEHAVIOR CHANGE STRATEGIES IN DIVERSE SETTINGS
(ONLINE CONTENT, BOOK, PODCAST, VIDEO, ONLINE QUIZ)

Coaches work with clients in diverse settings, from workplaces to clinics, wellness or medical fitness centers to virtual forums like Facebook or Google+. They also come from diverse backgrounds, often incorporating their expertise into another professional role such as physician, nurse, dietitian, medical assistant, personal trainer or community health leader. In this section, you'll prepare to successfully apply the fundamental coaching principles to any number of diverse settings.

Learn More »

Coaching Behavior Change

In the final chapters of Coaching Behavior Change, you'll gain insight on how coaches fit into the patient-centered medical home, emerging workplace wellness programs and medical fitness centers, and payment models that can be incorporated into each of those settings. You'll also explore the emerging trends of virtual coaching and group coaching.

Case Study Podcast

To round out the podcast series, Linda Fogg-Phillips, MS, an expert in health behavior design, health coaching and the Tiny Habits®, shares a real-life virtual coaching example. You'll also review the CRAFT Model, used exclusively in virtual coaching. The method will help you systematically address specific areas with your client or patient at each meeting.

Online Quiz

The section quiz will gauge knowledge on material reviewed in Coaching Behavior Change, the podcast, Insight from Experts Series, and the practical applications. As with all other curriculum components, the multiple-choice quiz is housed within the ACE interactive, digital learning platform.

SECTION 6: COACHING WORKSHOP

SECTION 6: COACHING WORKSHOP
(ONLINE CONTENT, VIDEO)

Our landmark Coaching Workshop series of videos offers live 15-20 minute coaching scenarios demonstrating client-centered coaching principles based on the International Coach Federation core competencies. Featuring ACE experts Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, and Billie Frances, MA, Board-certified Life Coach, licensed therapist and founder of Guiding Mindful Change, and several Behavior Change Specialists-in-training, the videos take an inside look into clients who want to quit smoking, reverse prediabetes, establish a workplace wellness program, lose weight and maintain a healthy diet.

SECTION 7: PRACTICAL SKILLS EXPERIENCE

SECTION 7: PRACTICAL SKILLS EXPERIENCE

The practical skills experience allows aspiring Behavior Change Specialists to receive live feedback from an ACE Master Coach on their individual coaching skills in a virtual setting. The Web-based session helps to ensure you have a deep understanding of strategies and techniques covered in the curriculum, and you know how to put them into practice. Before candidates can be named an ACE Specialist, they must demonstrate sufficient skills to the ACE Master Coach in each of the four competency groups. All feedback will utilize International Coach Federation core competencies.

View Practical Skills Experience Terms and Conditions »

The American Council on Exercise reserves the right to discontinue the sale and/or support of any continuing education course at any time, in order to cancel, correct, or update content based on current industry standards, guidelines, and/or technological advances. Notification will be given 6 months prior to expiration to allow for course completion and no refund will be given for expiring courses.