UK Health Coaches Association
Health and Wellness
Scope of Practice

 

As the professional body for Health and Wellness Coaching in the UK and Ireland, the UK Health Coaches Association provides a national framework to set, guide and uphold:

  • Professional standards in health and wellness coaching

  • Progression and professional development within health and wellness coaching

  • Access to education, training and CPD to support standards and progression

  • An environment within the health space where the profession of health and wellness coaching is recognised and UKHCA health and wellness coaches are highly valued and sought after in the private and public health sectors, in education and in business and communities throughout the UK and Ireland

 

Purpose of this document

The following provides guidance on ‘Scope of Practice’ to UK Health Coaches Association members in the UK and Ireland, their clients and prospective employers.

The UK Health Coaches Association members adhere to a Scope of Practice specific to health and wellness coaching ONLY. Where a member also practices additional wellness modalities to complement their health and wellness coaching services, there will be a separate scope of practice pertaining to such additional services for which the UKHCA holds no affiliation or responsibility.

As the association and professional body for Health and Wellness Coaching in the UK and Ireland our role is to uphold practices that ensure that our coaches act in a responsible and legitimate way that protects practising coaches, our clients, our coaching practice and our profession.

‘Scope of practice’ refers to the boundaries of the process of health and wellness coaching and the rules that must be followed when engaging in anything related to health and wellness coaching, whether it be writing a blog, giving a webinar, coaching a group or an individual, speaking at educational events and communicating in online forums, meetings, with colleagues, peers and other health care professionals.  

 

The Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC)

The Health and Care Professionals Council for the UK Scope of Practice states:

 

“Your scope of practice is the limit of your knowledge, skills and experience. It is made up of the activities you carry out within your professional role, provided that you have the knowledge, skills and experience to do them lawfully, safely and effectively.”

 

Scope of Practice for Health and Wellness Coaches in the UK and Ireland

Each Health and Wellness Coach’s Scope of Practice is specifically prescribed by their training school and it is imperative that each Coach takes responsibility to confirm and act within this defined Scope of Practice.

 

With this imperative first and foremost, the guidance below sets out the Scope of Practice for UK Health Coaches Association members:

 

  • Health and wellness coaches work with individuals and groups in a client-centred process to facilitate and empower the client to develop and achieve self-determined goals related to health and wellness

 

  • Coaches support clients in mobilising internal strengths and external resources, and in developing self-management strategies for making sustainable, healthy lifestyle, behaviour changes.

 

  • As partners and facilitators, health and wellness coaches support their clients in achieving health goals and behavioural change based on their clients’ own goals and consistent with treatment plans as prescribed by individual clients’ professional health care providers

 

  • Coaches assist clients to use their insight, personal strengths and resources, goal setting, action steps and accountability toward healthy lifestyle change and may offer supporting resources from nationally and internationally recognised authorities, such as current government and public health guidelines and peer-reviewed sources.

 

  • Coaches must unless otherwise credentialed and able to do so legitimately, avoid giving specific personal health advice, but may offer a client direction to health and wellness information and resources from nationally/internationally recognized, robust evidence-based and peer-reviewed authorities, so that clients can draw their own conclusions, gain confidence and a sense of empowerment.

 

Where the prescribed Scope of Practice of a Member’s training school and that of the UK Health Coaches Association differ, Members are expected to hold themselves to the higher standard.

 

Doing no harm

In common with all health professionals, health and wellness coaches must follow a ‘do no harm’ mandate by refraining from or carrying out any actions that would harm clients or patients.

 

For all UK Health and Wellness Coaches, these actions include:

  • assessing symptoms

  • diagnosing conditions

  • interpreting lab results

  • giving specific dietary advice

  • removing food groups

  • prescribing treatments or therapeutic interventions (including nutritional)

  • making claims to prevent or cure any condition

 

or engaging any other activities that could ultimately:

  • harm a client or patient

  • lead to legal lawsuit

  • invalidate insurance cover

  • bring the UK Health Coaches Association and the Health Coaching profession into disrepute

 

The boundaries of the health coaching Scope of Practice may include, but is not limited to:

  • coaching an individual

  • coaching a group

  • writing a blog or articles

  • holding or participating in webinars, speaking and educational events

  • communicating in online forums, meetings, with colleagues, peers, HCPs

 

The exception to this is where a coach holds multiple, active credentials and insurance. See below.

 

Holding multiple credentials

While Health and Wellness Coaches do not, per se assess symptoms, diagnose conditions, interpret lab results, give specific dietary advice, remove food groups, prescribe treatments or therapeutic interventions (including nutritional) or make claims to prevent or cure any condition - if they also hold active, nationally recognized professional credentials and insurance (for example as a nutritionist, nutritional therapist, dietician, nurse, doctor, pharmacist, psychologist, physiotherapist, mental health specialist, osteopath, chiropractor) they may provide expert guidance related to that topic, but must act within the Scope of Practice of that or those profession(s).

 

Getting informed consent

In such a case, it is the health coach’s professional responsibility to confirm in writing the Scope of Practice for any and each service agreed with a client, and to act within the Scope of Practice for health and wellness coaching and/or the Scope of Practice for the relevant profession or active, credentialed and insured.

 

Seeking collaboration

Health and Wellness Coaches should actively seek collaborations with other health care practitioners such as doctors, dietitians, nutritionists and other practitioners and therapists to be the anchor of a truly whole-health creating endeavour.

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