Do I need a health coach, a counsellor, or a nutritionist?

Bonnie Evie Gifford
By Bonnie Evie Gifford,
updated on Jan 16, 2023

Do I need a health coach, a counsellor, or a nutritionist?

With so many different experts out there, how do you know which is the right one for you? We explain more about how health coaches, counsellors, and nutritionists can help you

Who doesn’t want to be healthier? An England-wide survey of over 5,000 adults found that nearly 80% of over 18s wanted to make healthier lifestyle changes. For many, that means eating more healthily (40%), losing weight (39%), and exercising more (41%).

Being healthier can mean a lot of different things, for different people. For some, it’s making the switch from junk food and ready meals to learning how to cook a more nutritious meal (without spending too much time or money). It may mean losing or gaining weight, incorporating regular exercise into your daily or weekly routine. Or it could mean finding healthier balances between work and life, decreasing overall stress levels, and putting your wellbeing first.

With so many differing goals to become ‘healthier’, how do we know the right kind of experts to reach out to? We explain more about the different kinds of help and support out there, what they can help with, and how you can figure out which pathway is right for you.

What is health coaching and how can a health coach help me?

We all know that making healthier choices isn’t as easy as just deciding to change. If it was, we’d all be able to make big, sustainable changes without needing help and support.

Health coaching is about gaining support in making nutrition, fitness, and/or lifestyle changes. This could be to help with a specific, diagnosed health issue or with your general health and wellbeing. A health coach can act as a mentor, helping you to figure out what changes you want to make, set realistic milestones and goals, as well as learning new skills and techniques to put your physical health and mental wellbeing first.

Different health coaches may offer different specialisms. Generally speaking, health coaches can help you with a broad range of issues that could be holding you back from living a healthier life. This could include weight management, career development, learning how to manage stress or relationship issues, creating a better work/life balance, and more.

Wellness coaches may offer overlapping help. If you’re primarily looking to improve your sense of mental wellbeing, working with a wellness coach could be the answer.

What is wellness coaching?

It’s important to remember that while health coaches can help with a broad variety of issues and goals, they hold distinctly different qualifications to counsellors, nutritionists, medical experts, and personal trainers (unless otherwise stated by the individual). Life coach Directory explains more about the qualifications needed by a health coach.

How can working with a therapist help me feel healthier?

Counselling has been shown to have numerous benefits for people of any age, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic background. Speaking with someone outside of friends and family provides a safe space to open up and talk about what’s worrying you without fear of being judged or hurting someone’s feelings.

Talking therapies can help with eating disorders, addictions, helping to process big or difficult life events, coming to terms with physical illness or long-term health conditions, and even coming to terms with general life changes as you age. Finding a therapist who you feel comfortable opening up with is key.

Different kinds of therapists can help with a wide variety of issues. For example, if you experience health anxiety (where worries about your health begin to take over your life, often due to stress, health scares, loved ones illnesses, or past abuse) a therapist can help you to explore why you are feeling anxious, how it’s affecting your life, and help you to find new coping mechanisms.

Those experiencing high levels of stress or work-related stress may find speaking with a counsellor can help them to better understand underlying causes of their stress, learn new coping strategies and set healthier boundaries. Even if you’re struggling to put a name to what’s wrong and are just feeling sad or stuck in life, speaking with a therapist can help you to reassess your priorities, life goals, build confidence, self-esteem, and self-acceptance, all while feeling heard and supported.

How can nutritional therapy help me feel healthier?

Nutritional therapy refers to using food, supplements, and a healthy diet alongside working with a qualified nutritionist, dietitian, or nutritional therapist, to create or support a healthier lifestyle. Nutritional therapy can help support you in managing chronic health conditions (alongside other support), setting and working towards specific goals, or making general healthy habits that are sustainable.

This can include:

It is important to remember that there are many different kinds of nutritional professionals, each with different qualifications and areas of expertise. While some titles may be used interchangeably, nutritionists, nutritional therapists, dietitians, and registered dietitians can all refer to different professionals. Nutritionist Resource explains more about the different kinds of experts, their qualifications, and how they can help you.

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