Health and Wellness Coaching: A Booming Industry in a Post-COVID19 World

Health and Wellness Coaching: A Booming Industry in a Post-COVID19 World

As a wellness lawyer, one thing I have witnessed surge as of late is interest in starting a health and wellness coaching business. Many budding health and wellness coaches find my law firm in search of legal guidance so they can start their business in the most ethical and legal manner possible. Of course, I applaud those conscientious coaches for investing in their business so it starts off right. But why is there a growing interest in this field? And what is this field exactly? And how does wellness law help the field? This blog post sets out to answer those questions.

What is Health and Wellness Coaching?

According to one source, health coaching is a $7 billion service market with a strong growth outlook. This same source estimates that there are now about 128,000 health coaches and health educators in the United States and that the average annual salary is $55,220. The top three users of health coaching are: 1) consumers; 2) physician offices and large healthcare organizations; and 3) corporate wellness programs.

There may be various definitions of health and wellness coaching, but as a wellness lawyer, I see health and wellness coaching as a service that helps people reach their health and wellness goals. Just like in sports, coaches encourage and support the people they serve and help them achieve their best selves. Health and wellness coaches help their clients create health goals, help them make a plan to reach those goals and then hold them accountable in reaching those goals. As I tell my clients very often, health and wellness coaches do not diagnose, do not order labs (typically), do not prescribe medications or treat illness and disease. They may work alongside licensed health care practitioners who do treat, diagnose and prescribe, but coaches should not be conducting those activities themselves, even if they have a license to do so. Coaches should refer clients who are suffering from an illness or disease to an appropriate licensed healthcare provider.

There are many subspecialties of health and wellness coaching. The Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC has helped numerous different types of coaches, such as diet and nutrition coaches, physical activity coaches, spiritual coaches, mindfulness and meditation coaches, mental wellbeing coaches, relationship coaches, lifestyle coaches, just to name a few. Some coaches specialize in the populations they serve, such as women, men, families, couples, older adults, younger adults, individuals who identify with a certain religion, and the list can go on. Of course, in the growing market of health and wellness coaching, it is imperative that a coach find their niche market, and that is what I see a lot of coaches doing.

What is Wellness Law and How can it Help Coaches?

Just like coaches, most lawyers need to specialize in a legal area. It might be specializing in a type of law, or specializing in a type of industry, or a combination of the two. Wellness law is a legal specialty that combines aspects of employment, employee benefits and traditional health care law to help health and wellness clients navigate the legal landmines unique to their industry. These legal landmines include federal and state laws that regulate health professions, data collection, billing for services and taxation issues.

Some health and wellness lawyers may also be knowledgeable about Food and Drug laws (FDA law) and technology/data privacy law, since so many health and wellness coaching services are delivered online. Health and wellness lawyers can also help clients with their business startup needs, such as creating a business entity and drafting and reviewing contracts.

Wellness lawyers can help health and wellness coaches set the proper expectations for themselves and their clients by creating solid agreements and terms that will define the coaching relationship. Setting the proper expectations is one of the best things a coach can do for themselves and their clients, because not meeting expectations can be one of the biggest reasons coaches can get into legal trouble.

Why is Health and Wellness Coaching a Growing Field?

Based on my legal knowledge and general observations only, here are five reasons why I think health and wellness coaching is a burgeoning industry:

  1. COVID19 accelerated our focus on wellbeing and self-care. The pandemic created a lot of stress and anxiety, especially about our health. One recent survey found 80% of adults planned to focus more on self-care because of the pandemic. Forty-four percent of those same survey respondents stated that they desired more guidance and support for practicing self-care during the pandemic. Coaches are in an ideal position to provide that guidance and support, particularly when our traditional medical system has been overstretched and unable to meet basic self-care needs of our population.
  2. COVID19 offered the opportunity to work from home with increased flexibility. For many corporate employees, the pandemic created a unique opportunity to try out working from home, and a lot of these employees have embraced the idea more permanently. As corporations start bringing employees back to the office, however, many of these employees do not want to give up their remote work lifestyle. As a result, a lot of people have started their own business. In fact, according to Insider,6 million Americans started their own company in 2021. Coaching is definitely one of those businesses one can do from anywhere.
  3. COVID19 relaxed telehealth rules and virtual platforms have proliferated. Because traditional health systems did not want patients coming into their facilities unless absolutely necessary, state and federal governments relaxed telehealth laws to allow for more people to get medical care remotely. I have written about these telehealth legal changes in previous blog posts. In addition, there has been growth in consumer interest in using telehealth platforms, as well as the number of telehealth platforms available. Many of these platforms are specific to health coaching. See The availability and desire of virtual coaching allows health and wellness coaches to practice from anywhere, including their home or on the road, giving coaches the flexibility that they may crave.
  4. Coaches can make a lot of money. In addition to health and wellness coaches, there are business coaches to help other coaches earn more money. In 2019, business coaching was a $15 million industry. These business coaches teach other coaches how to create revenue streams through not only one-on-one coaching, but group sessions, educational content, social media influencing and other methods. According to one recent article, the most successful coaches lure other would-be coaches into the market by showing and commenting on their glamorous lifestyle. I can attest that many of my coaching clients are doing quite well financially.
  5. Coaching is not regulated. From a wellness lawyer’s perspective, this is perhaps the biggest reason why I believe health and wellness coaching is a booming business. Being part of a regulated profession myself (law), I understand all the hoops one must jump through in order to become a practice a licensed professional and continue practicing as one. State governments regulate licensed professions, and most, if not all, states require those licensed professionals (such as physicians, nurses, chiropractors, physical therapists, dietitians, athletic trainers, naturopathic physicians, acupuncturists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, just to name a few) to attain a certain level of education, to pass certain exams, pay certain fees and continue their education and report to their respective licensing boards on a regular basis. Coaching requires none of that. In theory, anyone can decide to become a coach, regardless of their education and training. Of course, the more education and training one has, the more confident and competent one will be as a coach. But no state or federal agency is policing the coaching world. There are coaching certification programs. For example, the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching offers board certification that requires its coaches to meet certain standards. About 5,000 health and wellness coaches have the NBHWC credential. However, unlike licensed practitioners who are limited in where and how they can practice because of various regulations, coaches are free to practice anywhere. There are caveats, however, which is why it is imperative that health and wellness coaches partner with a competent wellness lawyer. Those caveats concern the coach’s scope of practice and partnerships with any licensed professionals. Coaches can get into legal trouble if they overstep their scope, as a Florida coach did recently. Nevertheless, the freedom and flexibility that coaching offers is enticing to many, even those health professionals with a state-issued license.

If you are interested in health and wellness coaching, I encourage you to reach out to the Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC so we can help you start your coaching career with the least amount of legal risk possible.

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