Health coaches



Key points about health coaches

  • Health coaching is a way of helping you gain the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to take an active part in your own health care.
  • It helps you reach the health goals you want to achieve.
  • Health coaching is useful if you have ongoing health issues or complex health needs.
  • Its goal is to improve your long-term outcomes.
  • It can include your whānau members, so they can also support you in achieving your health goals.
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Health coaching is based on the saying that if you give a person a fish, they will eat for a day, but if you teach them to fish, they will eat for a lifetime.

It’s not about one person rescuing another; it’s about giving someone the resources to help themselves. Rescuing is appropriate for acute care when doctors need to take over and do something or tell you what to do. But if you have an ongoing health issue, rather than someone telling you what to do, a health coach works alongside you so you can manage your condition well and achieve the goals that you set.

Just like sports coaches, the role of a health coach is to inspire confidence in you, share knowledge with you and find ways to motivate you to achieve your goals.

They might help you manage your appointments or your medication, answer your questions about your condition, or explain more fully why the doctor recommended you take certain actions. They will help you work out what you want to achieve and will help you find the support to do that.

Health coaches have five roles, which are to:

  1. provide support for you to manage your condition yourself
  2. bridge the gap between you and your doctor
  3. help you find your way around the healthcare system
  4. offer you emotional support
  5. be your ongoing first person to contact if you have a question.
Roles of a health coach infographic

Image credit: American Academy of Family Physicians, Fam Pract Mgt, 2010

Video: What is a health coach?

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(Listening to Families, NZ, 2023)


  1. Schwarz SK. Adding a health coach to your team(external link). Clinical Practice Today. 2015 Aug:7. 
  2. Bennett HD, Coleman EA, Parry C, Bodenheimer T, Chen EH. Health coaching for patients with chronic illness(external link) Family Practice Management. 2010 Sept/Oct:24–29. 

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Credits: Healthify Editorial Team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Dr. Janine Bycroft

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