FAQs

Get the Health Coaching Answers You Need

Frequently Asked Questions

What you WANT to know, and what you NEED to know
about becoming a Certified Health Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute

Our program stands out among others because we offer a structured, yet flexible online learning experience. Students learn a research-based curriculum that follows a lifestyle medicine approach to health and wellness based on Dr. William Sears’ four pillars of health -Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, and Nutrition (L.E.A.N.). These features coupled with our unparalleled support before, during, and after certification, provide students with practical skills, tools, and confidence to become a successful Certified or Master Certified Health Coach.

Students must be 18 years or older and hold a high school diploma or equivalent. Additional pre-requisites are not required to enroll due to the advanced curriculum design. Students learn a comprehensive approach that combines health coaching skills and practical nutrition, exercise, attitude, and lifestyle knowledge to effectively guide clients toward improved health.

Yes. The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is an accredited and approved Health Coach Certification Program by leading organizations in the health and wellness industry. An institution is accredited or approved (depending on the wording of the overseeing agency) if it has met or exceeded minimum standards of quality by the accrediting organization. Each accrediting body sets its own standards and requirements, which is why it is important to look for institutions that are accredited or approved by reputable governing boards.

The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is approved by the only nationally and internationally recognized governing body for health & wellness coaching, the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC).

The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is Continuing Coach Education (CCE) accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and is accredited by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

In addition, the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is approved by several credible organizations such as: University of Massachusetts Global, American Council on Exercise (ACE), National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP), International Childbirth Educators Association (ICEA), Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute Health Coach and Master Health Coach Certification programs were developed by world-renowned physician Dr. William Sears, MD and a team of experts. Educational content is based on scientific principles that support optimal wellness, rather than theory or opinion. Students learn a lifestyle medicine approach to wellness based on Dr. Sears’ four pillars of health – Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition (L.E.A.N). Students gain practical skills that equip them to help others understand not just what to do to live more healthfully, but why making positive health changes matters and the science behind both.

Yes. The Health Coach Certification training is a structured, yet flexible online program. Courses are designed to feel like a small classroom environment, with instructor provided feedback and support throughout the course duration. Content is delivered weekly online and is available 24/7, allowing students the flexibility to study when it works best for them. Students will participate in eLearning sessions, readings, activities, a weekly live instructor-led conference call (recorded for those who are unable to attend in real-time), and a weekly quiz. Students will hold a live, small group session and will take a final exam online to complete the Health Coach Certification process.

The Master Health Coach Certification is comprised of one or more life-stage specialty courses plus the Master Health Coach Training course. The Master Health Coach Training is an instructor-led, online training with required weekly two-hour live virtual classes. Instructors lead each live weekly session in an interactive, small group environment where students practice coaching skills and receive critique in real-time. Each week, students will complete additional assignments outside of class, including eLearning lessons, practical skill applications, readings, and volunteer sessions. A practical exam, consisting of four live recorded coaching sessions completes the Master Health Coach Certification process.

The Health Coach Certification training is flexible, allowing 24/7 online access, with assignments due each week by Sunday. This format offers the best experience for online learning, as it promotes student interaction and ensures that students comprehend information before moving to the next week’s assignments.

The Master Health Coach Training course requires students to attend a weekly, two-hour live virtual class with additional assignments due each week. Assignments are accessed through an online learning environment with 24/7 access for students to complete required work outside of class each week.

Yes. Many of our students work full-time while also tending to other daily commitments such as caregiving, hobbies, social activities, etc. During the Health Coach Certification courses, assignments are due weekly by Sunday at midnight, offering students the flexibility to complete each week’s work in accordance with their own schedules. The Master Health Coach Certification Advanced Training course requires students to attend a weekly, two-hour live virtual class with additional assignments due each week. Day and evening virtual class times are available to accommodate busy schedules.

The time each student spends on the course content depends on the course(s) enrolled in and individual learning style.

On average, the Families course will take approximately 6-8 hours per week. The Pregnancy course will take approximately 8-10 hours per week. The Adults/Seniors will take approximately 10-12 hours per week. If you are interested in becoming a Master Certified Health Coach, 12-15 hours of work per week is a good estimate for the 24-week course. This Advanced Training course also requires a mandatory two-hour live virtual class, once a week for the 24-week period.

Yes. Students can choose to focus on one or more life-stage specialties – Families, Pregnancy and/or Adults & Seniors – that best fit with personal interests, schedule, and goals. Specialized content addresses clients’ needs, which vary based on age and individual factors.

Earning a Health Coach Certification in a life-stage specialty allows a coach to work with a specific audience. Students will gain knowledge that is applicable to distinct age groups and life circumstances, allowing them to stand out among other coaches who have a generic one-size-fits-all approach.

Yes. In addition to the core information students learn while earning a Health Coach Certification, they also receive a complete program to use with clients. Each of the programs (Families, Pregnancy and Adults/Seniors) provides multiple hours of content, including optional scripts and client workbooks. Students can choose to use these optional programs as presented, tailor them for each client’s needs, or omit them altogether.

During the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute Health Coach Certification training, students learn a variety of coaching strategies that can be used with individuals, small groups, or in large group presentations. The Master Health Coach Certification focuses more on individual coaching.

Nutrition training is a key component of health coaching and part of our lifestyle medicine-based, L.E.A.N. approach (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition). The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute curriculum does not teach any one way of eating or dietary theories because the best solution for each client is the one that works for them, according to individual needs and goals. For this reason, students learn a whole foods approach to eating that focuses on quality over quantity. Students gain knowledge and tools to optimize nutrition for each client’s unique needs. For more information on nutrition details covered in each life-stage specialty course, click here.

Additionally, students can take a deeper dive into specific nutrition topics through our private Coach Portal, an online library of resources, which students can access 24/7 once certified.

Yes. As part of the Health Coach Certification training, students learn how to market their coaching services by discovering how and where to begin promoting programs, how to partner with different providers and organizations, and how to use other essential marketing tactics to succeed in their new Health Coaching venture. Upon graduation, students will also have access to ongoing marketing and business training, ready-made presentations, affordably priced professional marketing materials, like brochures, fliers, and websites, in addition to other tools that will help with getting started.

Each of the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute’s live instructors is highly qualified and holds a Certified, Master Certified, or Nationally Board-Certified Health Coach credential. Our instructors have real-world coaching experience and are experts in working with audiences covered in each life-stage specialty course. Learn more about individual instructors here.

Yes. The Health Coach Certification exam for each of the life-stage specialty courses and the exam required for the Master Health Coach Certification courses are included in the cost of the program. Exams are taken online and do not require students to visit a testing location.

Health Coach Certification life-stage specialty courses:

Our Health Coach Certification training uses an online classroom that is compatible with most browsers; Google Chrome or Firefox are preferred. For the best experience, we recommend accessing the eLearning segments with a newer PC or Mac desktop or laptop computer (5 years old or less) and a high-speed internet connection.

Master Health Coach Certification course:

  • PC or Mac desktop or laptop computer that meets the technical specifications provided on the Adobe Connect website: https://helpx.adobe.com/adobe-connect/tech-specs.html
    All tablets (including but not limited to Chromebook, iPad, etc.) or phones are not compatible with this course. Students must use a desktop or laptop for the live virtual sessions.
  • Desktop or laptop computer equipped with a webcam and microphone.
  • A headset or earbuds that are compatible with Adobe Connect and the student’s computer.
  • The most up to date version of either Google Chrome or Firefox web browser. Mac users are strongly encouraged to use Google Chrome or Firefox rather than Safari.
  • High-speed internet is recommended to avoid disruption with course participation.

The Health Coach Certification training offers specialized education in one, two or three life-stage specialties: Families, Pregnancy, and/or Adults/Seniors. During training, students learn the Dr. Sears four-pillar L.E.A.N approach to Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition, a lifestyle medicine model. These principles may be applied to group or individual coaching. In each life-stage specialty course students are provided with a done-for-you curriculum that is ready to use with clients at the time of certification.

The Master Health Coach Certification training consists of one, two or three life-stage specialty courses PLUS the Advanced Coach Training and Techniques Course. The Master Health Coach Certification is a comprehensive program that equips students to identify a client’s readiness for change and help them initiate steps toward reaching their goals. The advanced coaching skills teach students how to guide clients through the change process using positive psychology and powerful questions. Students learn new tools and techniques to use with clients and build confidence in the ability to empower clients throughout the coaching process.

The Master Health Coach Certification program is approved by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC), the only nationally and internationally recognized governing body for health & wellness coaching. Those who complete this certification meet the approved training requirement to sit for the National Board Certification Exam offered by the NBHWC to become a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC).

The National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) requires that students have 40 live instruction hours through an approved training program to be eligible for the National Board Exam. This rigorous standard, among many others, is what allows the Master Health Coach Certification program to be approved by the NBHWC.

Yes. Once a student completes one or more of the life-stage specialty courses, it is possible to enroll in the 24-week Advanced Training course by registering through the Coach Portal or by calling the office at (303) 242-8411.

Yes. Once a student completes a 6-week life-stage specialty course, access is granted to the Coach Portal, a password-protected website, where it is possible to register for additional courses with coach pricing. However, students will save more by enrolling in multiple courses at the time of initial registration.

The more courses that are bundled together at the time of initial registration, the more a student will save on cost. Please visit the Tuition and Registration page for course pricing and online registration.

Yes. Payment plans are available for residents of the United States. Click here to learn more. 

Yes. Many medical professionals, such as physicians, nurses, Registered Dietitians, chiropractors, etc. successfully incorporate what they learn through the training into their existing practice or choose to branch out into Health Coaching. Medical professionals will learn how to educate and motivate patients in the areas of Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition, empowering them to take a balanced approach to health.

During the life-stage specialty training in Families, Pregnancy, Adults/Seniors or any combination of courses, students learn evidence-based coaching methods and a science-based, ready-to-use curriculum that covers life-stage specific information in the areas of lifestyle, exercise, attitude, and nutrition.

During the Advanced Training course (the second part of the Master Health Coach Certification) students learn evidence-based coaching methods and advanced coaching techniques, such as Motivational Interviewing and positive psychology, for sustained behavior change.

Yes. Students receive ongoing, unparalleled support from instructors and a fully trained staff, during and long after the certification training. A dedicated and knowledgeable team is available to help students reach individual coaching goals.

After earning the Health Coach or Master Health Coach Certification, students gain access to a vast library of resources including educational webinars on specialized topics, downloads to use with clients, marketing and business education, a network of fellow coaches, and much more. Additionally, advanced educational webinars and conference calls are offered throughout the year exclusively for Certified and Master Certified Health Coaches. Affordable marketing materials, including websites, flyers, and other resources to help coaches market themselves as a professional are available. In addition, students have access to a dedicated Coach Success Manager, available via phone or email, to assist with individualized coaching needs.

Yes. There is a 3-year annual re-certification process to maintain an active Certified or Master Certified Health Coach status. Cost is $145 for the first year; $95 for the second year, and $75 for the third year.

Maintaining an active Health Coach or Master Health Coach certification allows continued access to a vast library of educational and marketing resources as well as tools and resources that cover a wide range of topics from nutrition to marketing. Active coaches are invited to participate in ongoing advanced education presentations provided several times throughout the year. Recordings of these presentations are available in the online library with 24/7 access. Additionally, active coaches can continue to communicate with a dedicated Coach Success Manager to assist with business questions and coaching concerns.

No. Health Coaching is a certification-based profession vs. a licensed profession. The National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) sets rigorous standards that organizations providing Health Coach Certifications must meet to be an approved training program. The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute Master Health Coach Certification program is fully approved by the NBHWC. Students who complete the Master Health Coach Certification program meet the approved training requirement to sit for the National Board Exam to become a Nationally Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC).

There are many different paths for Certified or Master Certified Health Coaches, depending on  a coach’s background and passion. Many Health Coaches are employed by organizations, such as hospitals, insurance companies, within small or large companies (corporate wellness), or at fitness centers. If coaches are not interested in working for an employer, working with clients as a self-employed business owner is an option.

Graduates from the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute are employed or practicing in a variety of settings facilitating change with individuals and small or large groups. Here are some examples of where our graduates are working:

  • Hospitals and medical centers
  • Chiropractic offices
  • Coaching organizations offering virtual or app-based coaching
  • Senior centers and retirement communities
  • Health and Wellness Center
  • Barre studio
  • Independent Health Coach program for a large company
  • Insurance company
  • Corporate wellness
  • Family Practice and Pediatrician’s office
  • Public and private schools
  • Sleep center
  • Naturopathic Physician office
  • Incorporating Health Coach training and skills into current occupations such as nursing, occupational therapy, teaching and personal training
  • Forming partnerships with chiropractors, gyms, spas and medical organizations
  • Coaching clients online

See what our graduates are doing with their certification.

Today, these terms are used interchangeably. Historically, health coaching focused on physical health while wellness coaching focused on mental health. As these terms and approaches have evolved, both health coaching and wellness coaching now consider the many facets of an individual that, combined, create a healthy life.

There is no discernable difference between the two terms, which is why the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching includes both in their name. Graduates of the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute earn the title of Certified or Master Certified Health Coach because the term “health coach” is more widely recognized by the public and by online search engines.

Although some aspects of health coaching and life coaching overlap, health coaches focus on supporting clients in reaching self-identified health and wellness-related goals. Health coaches focus on affecting positive behavioral change through nutrition, physical activity, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connection. According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), life coaches work with clients to “maximize their personal and professional potential.” In other words, life coaches focus on an individual’s relationships, career, and finances.

The National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching describes the Health and Wellness Coach Scope of Practice as follows:

Health and wellness coaches work with individuals and groups in a client-centered process to facilitate and empower the client to develop and achieve self-determined goals related to health and wellness. Coaches support clients in mobilizing internal strengths and external resources, and in developing self-management strategies for making sustainable, healthy lifestyle, behavior changes. While health and wellness coaches per se do not diagnose conditions, prescribe treatments, or provide psychological therapeutic interventions, they may provide expert guidance in areas in which they hold active, nationally recognized credentials, and may offer resources from nationally recognized authorities such as those referenced in NBHWC’s Content Outline with Resources. As partners and facilitators, health and wellness coaches support their clients in achieving health goals and behavioral 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.

*adapted from NCCHWC Health & Wellness Coach Scope of Practice – April 10, 2019

No. The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is focused solely on providing education delivered through online Health Coach Certification and Training programs.

The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is consistently ranked among the top 5 Health Coach Certification programs and is recognized by Harvard Health Publishing as among “the most popular and well-respected” Health Coach Certification programs. Click to read reviews of the training and to hear what coaches trained and certified by the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute have to say.

The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is proud to be approved and accredited for Continuing Education credits through a number of organizations. Coaches, nurses, teachers, dieticians, social workers, and fitness professionals are just a few of the professions approved for continuing education credits. Requirements for Continuing Education vary by organization and from state-to-state. For more information, please visit our Continuing Education page for details or call us at (866) 446-1967.

Yes. The Master Health Coach Certification (one or more life-stage specialties plus the Master Health Coach Training course) will allow you to pursue the Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential. The Master Health Coach Training course is a Continuing Coach Education (CCE) program that is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). The program structure and curriculum align with the coach-specific training requirements of the Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential when applying through the Portfolio path. Learn more about the ICF’s ACC Portfolio path.