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Functional Medicine Health Coaches

by Jerald Dyson
functional medicine health coach

Functional medicine health coach: Functional Medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with Health coaches that understand that a healthy lifestyle entails more than fad diets and ineffective workout routines. 

There is a disconnect between what clients understand they need to do to be healthy and the natural motivation they require to make and maintain those changes. Health Coaches’ help to fill in that disconnect.

In this article, we’ll elaborate on what are functional medicine health coaches, what makes them important and different and how to become one. 

What Is A Functional Medicine Health Coach?

functional medicine health coach

Instead of just suppressing symptoms and looking for short cures, Functional Health is a systems-based approach to tackling the core causes of chronic disease and hurdles to wellness. 

We may comprehend and investigate the relationships between the body’s systems, people and their environments, and people’s behavior and their health outcomes using the Functional Health approach.

This approach in Functional Medicine means that practitioners concentrate on finding and treating the underlying cause of each patient’s ailment. Healthcare transforms into a collaborative, patient-centered practice that emphasizes prevention and healing rather than symptom suppression.

Although a health coach’s duty does not include diagnosing ailments or prescribing treatments, being trained in the Functional Health approach helps coaches to smoothly integrate into a collaborative, Functional healthcare team. 

When utilized in health coaching, the Functional approach promotes clients’ ability to function as a whole rather than focusing on one symptom or habit at the expense of others.

The Importance Of Functional Medicine Health Coach

What is the significance of the functional model of health? In the United States and many other countries throughout the world, chronic disease is on the rise. Rising healthcare expenses, greater risk for other diseases, and the low quality of life that many individuals endure in their later decades are all examples of how chronic illness is hurting our society. Unfortunately, the traditional healthcare model is unprepared to address this issue.

Acute treatment, symptom alleviation, and short-term interventions are all strengths of the traditional strategy. If you have a broken arm, this method is really useful. You may stroll into the doctor’s office, have the bone set and cast, get a pain medication filled, and you’ll be back to normal in no time.

But What If You’re Suffering From A Long-Term Illness? 

The usual course of action would be to prescribe a medication for that as well. However, you’ll most likely have to take that pill for years, maybe with adverse effects, and the underlying problem will remain. 

We know that factors other than genetics cause 85 percent of chronic illness (such as nutrition, lifestyle, and environment), and that pill won’t improve your environment. So, what’s the solution?

Functional Health is the answer. As previously stated, practitioners that follow the Functional Health approach look for the underlying reasons of chronic illness and then look for remedies to address those underlying causes. 

These treatments frequently target components of the immediate environment that people have control over and can improve, such as food, physical exercise, sleep, and so on. These aren’t one-size-fits-all remedies like a prescription drug. Instead, they are custom-made for each individual, based on their own circumstances.

A Functional Medicine practitioner, for example, could discover that high inflammatory foods in the diet are the core cause of a patient’s eczema and recommend a 30-day reset diet followed by a progressive reintroduction of foods to see if certain foods activate the underlying inflammation. 

functional medicine health coach

After that, the patient and a Functional Health coach could work together to:

  • Begin the 30-day cleanse.
  • Prepare for difficulties.
  • Look for strengths to rely on.
  • Make SMART goals for each week.

In the context of implementing behavioral adjustments, the coach and patient should also discuss the impact of exercise, sleep, stress, work, and family support on the patient’s health and success with the reset diet.

 Finally, the client will have an eczema strategy that is supported by numerous aspects of their lives and is based on good behaviors that they can sustain for years.

Examples like these aren’t uncommon any longer. A growing number of people are using a Functional approach to improve their health, and the healthcare sector is beginning to recognize the value of this concept. 

The Functional model of health is gaining traction in training programs, clinics, and hospitals, in part because it offers long-term solutions that lower healthcare costs. 

The Functional model can also be easily adapted to a virtual practice, allowing practitioners to provide care to patients and clients in underserved areas or in locations other than their own. Finally, the Functional Health model encourages habit formation in areas of our lives where many people have easy access (e.g., exercise, whole foods, mindfulness, and sleep) in order to improve health.

Functional Medicine Health Is A New Model Of Health And Wellness

Unlike traditional medicine, Functional Health is about more than just helping clients manage their symptoms and feeling better right away. 

It emphasizes the whole person, wellbeing, and the attainment of wellness goals through client-directed behavior modification. As you might expect, Functional Health encourages mental well-being, healthy mindsets, and long-term dietary and lifestyle modifications in addition to illness elimination.

The current healthcare system, on the other hand, does not place a premium on patients developing good habits or improving their health through long-term behavioral changes. 

Doctors and nurses undergo training that allows them to diagnose, treat, and occasionally educate patients. In acute care conditions, this training is critical. It does not, however, translate to the abilities required to encourage and provoke behavior change in patients through active listening, reflection, and the use of open, compelling questioning.

 All of this adds up to a hole in the healthcare system that Functional Health coaches may address with their behavioral change skills.

How To Fill Such A Gap In Healthcare?

A Functional Medicine practice stresses spending time getting to know patients and genuinely understanding their health concerns for those who practice medicine. It focuses on identifying and treating root causes through diagnostics and treatment regimens.

A Functional Health model for health coaches focuses on studying (and having clients experiment with) habits that can improve their health. It also emphasizes support for acts that promote wellbeing rather than only the absence of disease, as well as actions that assist clients in living the healthy, happy lives they desire.

Functional Medicine Health Coaches must have a thorough understanding of Functional Health in order to be valued partners in today’s healthcare setting. Health coaches must be able to work within existing clinical frameworks and contexts.

functional medicine health coach

How To Apply The Functional Medicine Health Approach?

As I previously stated, 85 percent of our risk for chronic disease is due to elements in our diets, lives, and environment, implying that our lifestyle and behavior are to blame. 

It follows that assisting clients in aligning their lifestyle and behavior with how their bodies are hardwired is a vital step in preventing and reversing chronic disease, extending lifespan, and improving quality of life.

Health coaches are not nutritionists, fitness trainers, or doctors. However, health coaches with a functional approach to health will be better qualified to understand their clients’ health and will be able to use this expertise when their clients request it. 

Health coaching focuses on assisting and empowering clients in making long-term, successful behavioral changes. Some clients will not seek expert advice and may be able to figure out what diet, exercise, or sleep pattern they want to begin on their own, while others may request materials or give you permission to assume an expert role and share what you know about a topic. 

In some cases, the information you supply and how you provide it can be the difference between success and failure for your clients.

We have to meet our clients “where they are” as health coaches. For starters, meeting clients where they are, requires us to set aside our own agenda as health coaches (we don’t have the “correct” solution). 

It Also Entails Having The Skills To:

  • Recognize the health issues that our clients face.
  • Pay attention to what they’re prepared for.
  • Recognize red signals that appear when customers attempt to improve their health.

Overall, the Functional Health model is basic and clear to comprehend, but it is difficult to put into practice. 

The process that Functional Medicine Health coaches and their clients go through to uncover fundamental causes and implement remedies demands inquiry, deliberation, and experimentation, even though it is not done from a clinical or diagnostic standpoint. 

For clients, this entails being patient and consistent, as well as putting in the effort necessary to establish long-term habits. 

Health Coaches can assist clients to connect to their motivation, values, joys, and the inner meaning that comes from making a successful change by listening to them and allowing them to develop their own vision and motivation for change while providing structure, support, and accountability. 

Successful behavior change takes time, but in the end, the “correct” adjustments are those that are most appropriate for the client. These are the types of long-term remedies.

How To Become A Functional Medicine Health Coach

To Be A Functional Health Coach, What Do Health Coaches Need To Do And Know? 

Let’s Take A Look At 10 Of The Most Important Aspects Of Functional Health Coaching.

1. Understand The Basics Of Nutrition

What foods are beneficial to our health, and why? What does it mean to eat a whole foods anti-inflammatory diet, and why does it make sense to do so?

2. Recognize The Efficiency Of Different Diets

What are the advantages of one diet over the other? What is the value of one diet over another for a client with a certain illness?

3. Recognize The Fundamentals Of Safe And Effective Supplementation

Although a food-first approach is a terrific place to start with clients, it does not meet all of their nutritional needs.

4. Provide Assistance With Food Preparation And Selection To Clients.

Understanding how to choose nutritious foods and how to prepare them in efficient, time-saving ways are important steps in ensuring that clients do not become overwhelmed as they seek to eat healthier.

5. Assist Your Clients With Lifestyle Issues As Well.

functional medicine health coach

Because There’s A Lot More To Health Than Just Diet, You Should Be Able To Help Your Clients Address Lifestyle Aspects Like:

  • Physical activity 
  • Sleep and Stress
  • Technology-related relationships
  • Social assistance
  • Playing

6. Recognize The Variety Of Specific Conditions That Clients May Bring Up.

This expertise will not only provide you with credibility and help you create trust with your clients, but it will also enable you to recognize red flags and send clients to the appropriate healthcare providers in your network. 

These Are Some Of The Conditions:

  • Gaining weight
  • Blood sugar control
  • Hypertension
  • Thyroid problems
  • Autoimmunity
  • Problems with the digestive system
  • Deregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Problems with mental health
  • plus a lot more

7. Assist Clients In Putting Licensed Providers’ Recommendations Or Protocols Into Action.

Whether you’re working in a clinic or just health coaching clients who are receiving these protocols from their doctor or practitioner, being able to provide treatment protocol assistance is invaluable.

8. Treatment Protocols Should Be Explained And Clarified.

You may operate as a link between the practitioner and their patient (your client) as a coach. Thus you should be familiar with the procedures and why clinicians prescribe them.

9. Conduct Educational Sessions And Coaching Groups

Because groups are more accessible and scalable than one-on-one sessions, both integrative and traditional medicine are moving toward group care.

10. Provide Advice And Resources When Clients Express An Explicit Need For Them.

functional medicine health coach

Although it is not the role of health coaches to direct and prescribe, if clients request resources and assistance specifically, health coaches must be able to provide effective evidence-based solutions within their scope of practice.

It takes more than a few months of reading and studying to master the knowledge and skills covered in these ten essentials. 

To Be A Great Functional Health Coach, You Must Be Able To:

  • Use real-life clients to practice coaching.
  • Get mentorship from expert coaches.
  • Find a community that will help you grow.
  • Understand the ethics of coaching and the scope of practice.
  • Invest in your professional development.
  • Practice with case studies.
  • Cultivate humility so that your knowledge base provides you with helpful information rather than “correct answers” for your clients.

How To Find Functional Medicine Health Coaches

It’s essential for people looking for a Functional Medicine practitioner or a Functional Health coach to learn about the background of the professional they want to engage with. Does this person have any functional health practical skills training? In what ways have they put this training to use in their practice?

Responsibilities Of A Functional Medicine Health Coach

  • Educate and assist clients in understanding their doctor’s treatment plan.
  • When clients make new lifestyle choices, provide them with tools and hold them accountable.
  • Positive psychology strategies can be used to motivate clients.
  • Assist customers with dietary adjustments, meal plans, and exercise regimens.
  • Organize group coaching sessions for clients on specific themes.
  • When necessary, work directly with the client’s practitioner.
  • Celebrate accomplishments and keep moving forward.

What Does An Ifm Health Coach Do?

Health and vitality, according to IFM, are important to the human spirit. They advocate for universal access to functional medicine care in order to promote the highest expression of individual health. 

Their Efforts Are Primarily Focused On The Following Five Areas In Order To Attain This Goal:

  • They educate functional medicine practitioners to be change agents in the fight against the chronic disease crisis.
  • Access. They make it as easy as possible for functional medicine to be included into the global healthcare system.
  • Economics. They make sure that functional medicine is a financially feasible option for clinicians, patients, and payers.
  • Collaboration and growth. They form and promote strategic partnerships that help IFM achieve its goal of making functional medicine care more accessible to everyone.
  • Research. Clinical research that supports the functional medicine approach is catalyzed and facilitated by them.

Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach Benefits

  • You earn a living doing something you enjoy.
  • You become your own boss, with more flexibility in terms of where and when you work.
  • You’ll learn how and why our bodies and thoughts function the way they do.
  • You get to understand about what makes people tick and how to improve their habits.
  • You develop into a lifelong learner who enjoys variety and meets new people.
  • You develop a strong desire to assist others in becoming their finest selves.

Conclusion

functional medicine health coach

Great health coaches pay attention to their clients and provide them with encouragement, accountability, collaboration, knowledge, and resources. While prior training in another healthcare discipline may be beneficial, a functional medicine certified health coach does not require any prior experience in the field.

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