Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I did it! I'm a Certified Wellness Coach!

I really had no idea what to expect when I applied to the Mayo Clinic graduate school for their Wellness Coaching certification course. It was late in 2012 and I had just completed my Personal Trainer certification. I knew I wanted something more - skills that would help me motivate people instead of just handing them a plan. When I read about the extensive curriculum the Mayo offered for certification, I was convinced it was right for me. I applied immediately - and three months later I was accepted into their July 2014 course. WHAT?! I learned that they only accept 120 students per year. Hence, the lengthy waiting list. 

Perseverance and pestering will get you everywhere. I begged Mayo to give me a spot earlier if it became available and I stayed on them about it. (Tammy in Admissions - you are wonderful!!) I was offered a spot for the second quarter course beginning in April 2014 and I snapped it up!

I anticipated what the class would be like since most of it would be conducted online. I went to college in the mid-90s, so this way of teaching was completely foreign to me. My first assignment was a simple introduction post in Blackboard about my background and why I wanted to take this course. One of the things I wrote was, " I want to get to the core of why people behave they way they do and teach them how they truly can change to be well." 

But, I had it all wrong. I wrote the word "teach". The most valuable thing I learned from this course is that I'm not going to teach anybody anything. Coaching isn't teaching. Coaching is listening. Coaching is support. Coaching is empathy. Coaching is encouragement. 

Coaching isn't therapy, coaching isn't imposing judgment and coaching isn't teaching. Teaching is providing answers. But, you already have the answers. You are the expert on you. I can't teach you about you. But, I've spent hours upon hours to get here. To the place where I can work with you to become the "you" you want to be. The best you.

I can't even begin to say enough good things about my experience at Mayo Clinic. My third week of class took place on-site at Mayo Clinic. They are days I will never forget! I was in a room of 14 like-minded people with fascinating experiences and stories to share. I was exhilarated, yet exhausted, from the precious time I spent learning from Mayo Clinic doctors and Wellness Coaches who had been practicing and improving coaching methods for years. I was able to participate in a peer coaching group with classmates for several weeks, so I could gain as much knowledge and practice as possible. This was when I realized I could be really good at coaching. This is for me!

People ask me:
  • What does Wellness Coaching mean?
  • Are you going to provide me with weight loss and dieting advice like recipes and meal plans?
  • Am I going to have to get on a scale in front of you?
  • Are you going to set strict goals for me?
  • Are you going to be upset or make me feel guilty when I don't do what you say?
Now, it's my goal to change the perception of coaching and help others understand what I can do to help. And, why the course content I learned at the Mayo Clinic is so incredibly valuable. I've been practicing with class peers and volunteer clients and I'm so excited about the results people are experiencing. 

I won't make you get on a scale in front of me, or set your goals for you or give you unsolicited advice and pamphlets. I definitely won't judge you for your actions or make you feel guilty.  

In fact, I decided to see a Wellness Coach myself during my learning process - one that was not affiliated with the Mayo Clinic. I wanted to see how she practiced compared to what I was learning. This is when I realized how right the Mayo got this curriculum. I saw my "coach" (incognito, of course) about four or five times. She usually did most of the talking instead of listening. I always left with a stack of pamphlets - some of which I told her were on subjects that weren't a concern of mine. She didn't hear me at all. She didn't dig deep or spend the time to find what motivated me. She didn't personalize our appointments. She just gave me blanket advice - pretty much information I could Google.

So, that's how I knew I could make a difference. It's my mission to help people become their best selves and maintain lasting change over time. I partner with people on what their goals are - not mine. It can be anything you want to change - eating habits, physical fitness, stress management. With what I’ve learned and practiced over the last several months:
  • I’m able to help people see themselves more clearly.
  • I can identify gaps between where someone is and where they want to be.
  • I’ve built a structure, I have useful tools and I can provide support in a safe environment necessary to help people sustain their commitment over time.
  • I will ask for more change, more intentional thought and more action than you will ask of yourself. But, this is done according to the client’s agenda.
Thank you for following along with me in 2014 and have a fabulous holiday season! I'm looking forward to sharing a broader scope of Mind Over Mayo in 2015!