Why health coaches should care about spirituality and healing

Monday, December 1st, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

According to the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, integrative medicine is “the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.” In the United States, 36 percent of adults use some form of complementary or alternative therapies. When megavitamin therapy and prayer specifically for health reasons are included, that number rises to 62 percent, according to the National Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Last week I spoke with a physician and a clinical health psychologist about healing and spirituality within the framework of a health coaching exchange. Their respective programs at Duke Center for Integrative Medicine and the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing train health coaches to expand the focus of health to the person’s body, mind, spirituality and community. Integrative health coaches are encouraged to become “curious explorers” of alternative and complementary practices along with their clients. Listen to these thought-providing interviews.

Drs. Ruth Wolever and Karen Lawson will describe how health coaches can benefit from training in motivational interviewing, self-management — and even spirituality and healing — during From Passive to Partner: Integrative Health Coach Training Using Motivational Interviewing for Behavior Change, a December 18, 2008 webinar. Register today.

In a related story this week, a study of women who take care of Alzheimer’s disease patients draws parallels between the caregivers’ religious faith and spirituality and their choice of support services.

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