In an article in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, researchers suggest that healing from a disease like bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa comes about through a person’s ability to internalize the need for change. In other words, people must want to change and know that change is necessary before they’ll have the ability to really alter their lives for the better. But, there are times when a person might see the need for change and still find it difficult to amend thoughts, opinions and behaviors. People can be blocked, finding it hard to move forward at all. Sometimes, a wellness coach can provide the tools people need in order to move past those blocks.
Specialized Task Lists
People who enroll in a formal treatment program for eating disorders have a number of people providing real help, including:
- Fitness trainers
A wellness coach might know a little bit about all aspects of healing, but this professional might not have any kind of formal training. As a result, these people won’t design eating plans, prescribe exercise or give advice on medications.
For example, someone who works with a wellness coach might know that eating three healthful meals per day, with a few low-calorie snacks sprinkled in, is the best way to reach a target weight. But this person might also be compelled to binge on snack foods at night. A wellness coach might ask the person to talk through the reasons for the binge, and emphasize the goals the person has for the treatment program. In concert with a therapist, the coach might even provide exercises people can use in order to stick to the eating program. The coach helps the person to examine and grow, without really providing therapy.
In periods of stress and uncertainty, people might be tempted to fall back into their old habits. In a study of the issue in people with bulimia, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found that the risk of relapse declined four years after diagnosis, but that’s a long time to keep temptation at bay. In some cases, a wellness coach can also help to reinforce the lessons of therapy after the person completes a treatment program, ensuring that a relapse doesn’t take hold. A wellness coach might check in with clients regularly, asking about the person’s feelings and habits. Sometimes, the person might need only a little reminder of the reasons to stick with the plan. Sometimes, though, the person simply needs to head back into formal therapy for a short period of time. Recovering from serious illnesses like this can take time, and there’s a lot to learn, and some people need a few sessions of touch-up therapy in order to really make changes that can help. A wellness coach might spot the signs of relapse in a client and encourage reentry into care.
Some people meet their wellness coaches in their treatment programs, but there are some people who meet their coaches before they get care for an eating disorder. These people might know that they need to change their relationships with food, but they might be stymied by:
- Workplace obligations
- Past failures
- Lack of motivation
A wellness coach might help people to find their inner motivation to change, and sometimes, that coach could help people to understand that they need to enroll in a formal treatment program in order to get better. The Mayo Clinic recommends wellness coaches for people who want to change their habits but find it hard to do so, and it’s easy to see why this might be vital for someone with an untreated eating disorder.
While wellness coaches can provide intense help, it’s a largely unregulated field. This means that almost anyone could claim to provide coaching services, and not all of that help might be ideal. Those people who work with coaches provided through a treatment program might not need to worry about issues of certification and education, as the administrators of the program might handle those details, but those who seek out help on their own should ensure that the person they hire has at least some educational background in health, psychology or fitness. It’s also acceptable to ask for references, just to ensure that this person has helped others in the past.