One of the benefits available to you at your Vera Whole Health Clinic is Health Coaching. Karleen Schonger, a Vera Health Coach in Flagstaff, Arizona answers some common questions about Coaching and what it can do for you.

Why would I want to meet with a health coach?

Patients often come to a coach for things that show up on their biometric screening such as blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar/A1c or another health diagnosis causing stress or concern. But coaching can be about anything in your life including: stress, anxiety, depression, work/life balance, exercise, nutrition, weight loss, sleep, excessive drinking and smoking.

Some coaching goals work in conjunction with counseling or AA, etc. And sometimes people seek coaching for career goals or personal goals such as training for a marathon or hiking a mountain. It’s really whatever the patient’s need is.

What will my first coaching session be like?

In our first session, we’ll ask you how you want to feel or what you want to achieve and make a plan together to help you attain that goal. We’ll meet weekly or every other week, depending on the plan, for regular check-ins and conversations to make sure you’re on track for success.

If stress has become an issue affecting your health, we may set goals for sleep, nutrition and exercise. Or maybe your primary care doctor referred you to coaching because of high cholesterol or blood sugar. Breaking it down into actions you can do over time will help you reach your long-term health and wellness goals.

How is coaching different from counseling?

Coaching is focused on the present moment. We look at the current issue, whether it’s the need to lower blood sugar, reduce stress – whatever is happening here and now and come up with active solutions for it.
Vera coaching sessions are personalized and begin with a 15 minute introductory meeting followed by weekly or every other week 30 minute coaching sessions to help you achieve a specific goal.

What’s different about Vera’s coaching model?

The Vera Coaching model is set up to have time for each patient. While coaching sessions vary from clinic to clinic, each session is usually a half an hour. This means coaches have focused time for each patient’s needs – and time between sessions to take notes and prepare for their next meeting.

What’s the benefit to meeting with a coach for something I could just do on my own?

An important part of our model is that we assume people already know what to do to reach their goal -- they just aren’t doing it! Take weight loss, for example. Everyone knows diet and exercise are the way to lose weight, but it takes real behavior change to make it happen. The accountability of meeting face to face (and sometimes by phone) with a coach helps people stick to their plan better than they would going it alone. People find coaching really makes a difference.

What if I don’t reach my goal in 6 or even 12 sessions?

Sometimes a health goal takes more than a few months to achieve. In 12 weeks, you may achieve a goal of spending 30 minutes, 3 days a week exercising, but you shouldn’t achieve a goal of losing 40 pounds in that time period. After the first 6-12 weeks, you and your coach can decide together if more time is needed or if a once a month check in will help you stay on track to meet your intended outcome.

How does health coaching work with my primary care?

The great thing about having your primary care physician and health coach under the same roof is that we can work together to provide you with more comprehensive care. If your doctor is concerned about your lab results in the pre-diabetic screening, for example, she may recommend working with a coach to help you lower your blood sugar. And if you have an ongoing health condition, this coordinated care works for your benefit as we share test results and monitor your progress instead of you having to pass your health information back and forth between providers.

Vera Whole Health Coaching is available at your clinic. Ask your provider or anyone on your clinic team for an introduction to coaching visit and find out how a coach like Karleen can help you achieve your goals.

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