By the end of this article, students should be able to:
- put together a wellness coaching code of ethics;
- align personal and professional ethics;
- know their professional limits;
- name client rights;
- practice confidentiality.
In the future, it is expected that different areas of coaching will have ethical codes. For the time being, this is at the wellness coach's discretion. It is advisable to study other professional ethical codes, adopt one, acknowledge and respect client rights, know the limits to coaching, and always practice confidentiality. These things will not only help cover you in the event of unsatisfied customers but will prepare coaches for a future in which coaching will be regulated.
Along the way, whether you have been aware of it or not, we have constantly been sending secret messages about ethics. Okay, maybe they were not so secret. The fact of the matter is, though wellness coaching is not currently a field that requires a license, that may very well change in the future. This is to guard against charlatans hanging their shingle and selling snake oil, or the wellness coaching equivalent.
There is no doubt that you can be a good, effective, ethical wellness coach without an education and license. However, it is up to you to regulate yourself for the time being. As this is still a relatively new field, clients themselves may not even think to ask what your education or background is, whether licensure is required, if you belong to any professional organizations, or if you have references.
The activity for this article will be to write a "Wellness Coaching Code of Ethics." If you want to start writing it as we go, that is perfectly fine. To review, some of the ethical considerations that we have brought up thus far include the list in the following box.
Business Strategies for Wellness Coaching
By the end of this section, students should be able to:
- see how Internet strategies can help build a wellness coaching practice;
- keep promotion and marketing in line with the coaching mission;
- utilize creativity to spread the word about coaching services.
Few wellness coaches will be able to start by hanging their shingle outside the door. While an office is not necessary for successful coaching practices, some sort of business strategy or plan will be. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling on a wellness coaching business.
Blog: Everyone has a blog these days, so do not be left out. Blogs are like casual, informative, and interactive message boards. You, the blogger, can write about the services you offer, different activities you have tried in your wellness coaching explorations, different experiences you have had, research you do on wellness coaching, and seminars you attend. The topics are endless; they can be as little as 100 words, and you can do it as frequently or infrequently as you like, though frequent blogging is more attractive when you want to build up readership. It is a free form of advertising and publicity for your services, so it is definitely worth checking out. Do a search for free blogging and you will find lots of sites available.
Web site: Gone are the days when Web sites are only for corporations with the money to hire programmers to set up home pages. Now nearly anyone can purchase a domain and have a decent-looking site set up in a matter of hours. And it is not that expensive. GoDaddy.com and 1and1.com both have great deals for beginners.
Articles: If you have any sort of writing ability, you should try your hand at writing some articles and submitting them to article databases. If you already write on different wellness coaching topics on your blog or elsewhere, why not expand on them a bit (800 to 1,000 words is a common article length) and try submitting them to different article directories? Search for "submit articles" or "article directories." Make sure you include a blurb about who you are and direct readers to get more information by visiting your blog, Web site, or e-mailing you directly. You may just get some new clients and it was, again, free!
Digg: Digg.com is the everyman's public relations source. You can submit any link, not just your own links, though that would be the point when we are talking about promoting your business; write a few sentences promoting the content of the link; and submit. It is very easy and you can submit to different categories where you think the content would fall under, such as news, health, education, etc. Another free Internet resource!
Social networking: Sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Friendster are not just for kids. Plenty of businesses now have their own social networking pages. It is not just to promote your business, either; it really is to help network. Depending on the particular social network you use, and you can use all of them if you like, plus others not named here, you can find lots of valuable information from others in the same or similar line of work. This might include strategies they have used to gain clients, tips on what to avoid, the type of client to target, and so on. It is also free!
Craigslist: This site offers free Internet ads in most locations. In some bigger cities, a nominal fee will cover approximately 30 days of listing.
Have business cards made. This can be done cheaply online at sites like VistaPrint.com or PrintsMadeEasy.com, or even on your home printer. Start handing them out and posting them on community bulletin boards, such as those at churches and libraries. With permission, leave them at places where you think your clients may shop or otherwise show up.
Hold a free seminar on a topic you can speak about for an hour or more. This may include some up-front costs for the location and snacks but may pay off in a big way with client referrals.
Join a community organization or club to help you network. Toastmasters has many local chapters and practice speaking in front of a group will be beneficial as well.
Write an e-book. It takes time, research, and its own marketing, but once it is out there and published, it looks very impressive to add to your list of achievements.
Sponsor something. This is not free but can get the word out about your service to a wide number of people very quickly. Look into community events; perhaps you can sponsor a table, donate pens with your practice's name and number, bring food or drinks to volunteers along with business cards or other literature from your practice.
Word-of-mouth referrals come not just from previous or current clients but from your friends, family, and other professionals. Therefore, make sure everyone knows what you are doing and what you are offering. You never know when someone might mention something to your brother's boss about needing someone to help bring his or her life back into balance.
Also, when you have satisfied clients, ask if you can use them as references. Even if they do not want to be available by phone to talk to potential clients, perhaps they would be willing to make their e-mail address available or write a brief testimonial that you can then share when new clients ask for references. If you have been successful with a client, the person will probably be more than happy to give you this in return.
This should not be an overly taxing exercise. You can make a list, you can organize it however you like, prioritize how you like, include pictures if you like, dates for expected completion, or leave it all open-ended.
Set a time to revisit and re-evaluate it. Are you making progress on your goals? Do you need new goals? Is there something that is not working that needs to be revised? Is one area particularly needy while the others seem pretty good for now?
This is your time to shine and figure out what wellness coaching is going to look like for you.