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:
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.