Should Health Coaches Specialize?

If you’ve recently graduated as a health coach, you’ve got to focus on a clear niche market.

I found my niche sometime around the year 2000 when I was practicing as an orthopedic physical therapist in an outpatient clinic in Atlanta.  One of my patients was struggling with shoulder pain due to her recent breast cancer surgery.  She was a remarkable woman, and changed the course of my practice forever.  I entered the field of physical therapy fully expecting my niche to be in sports medicine.  But, because of the impact of this one patient, I changed gears, attended a lot of post-graduate training, and eventually focused my entire practice on women’s health.

For health coaches, having a niche for marketing purposes makes great sense.  It’s far easier to market your practice if you understand who you’re speaking to in your marketing materials.  It’s also far easier to grow your practice if you’re doing the kind of healing work, with the kind of people you were meant to heal, each day.

Your Niche Market is Not The Same as Having A Specialization

Having a marketing niche is not exactly the same thing as having a specialization.  In the world of healthcare, professionals commonly specialize their practices not just for marketing purposes, but also because it’s much easier to focus on one area for continued learning, professional growth and keeping up with new science.  The amount of science, theory, and information released each year in the world of healing is huge!  It’s impossible for any one person to grasp it all.  Thus, healthcare professionals specialize so that they can stay on top of how to best help their specific niche of patients.

Health coaching is a much newer role within healthcare.  Board certification is completed through The International Consortium for Health & Wellness Coaching (ICHWC.org) who now have clear continuing education requirements.

Join us in The Women’s Health Coach Certification Program. Get top quality women’s health coaching and nutrition skills to support your clients to reach their health goals. Specialize in puberty, female athletes, menstrual health, birth control recovery, fertility, postpartum, perimenopause, and general hormone health. Learn more here.

I have three recommendations for health coaches who want to go beyond niche marketing to specialist professional growth in order to confidently provide their niche clients with the best possible results.

First, dabble in a number of different niches and specializations by working with every client that seems interesting to you. You will quickly learn which clients light you up, and which drain your energy. I spent years  clarifying my niche and it has circled back around to women with pelvic and sexual health concerns, hormonal imbalances, and even a combination of my first loves (sports medicine and women’s health) through my work with female athletes.  There is one population that I know really well from a science perspective (I’ve even wrote a textbook chapter on caring for this population!), but, in practice, I did not love working with these clients – adolescent girls. I have two daughters of my own, but the communication skills needed to work with adolescent girls and their families are very different than those that are necessary for working with adult women. It did not come easily to me to work with adolescents, despite my knowledge base.  Bottom line: Until you’ve gained some experience with your niche client population, you may not be ready to specialize.

Assess your areas of weakness. Do you lack a depth of coaching and communication skills that you need to assess change readiness language or behavior, asking skilled coaching questions, or holding your clients accountable? Do you understand the nuances of coaching as applied to your niche? For example, coaching teen girls is very different from coaching male military veterans! Consider more training in advanced coaching skills to develop, deepen and practice your coaching skills to apply them directly to your specialization.

Perhaps your coaching communication skills are great, but you might need more skill in evidence-based lifestyle medicine for your specialty practice. Maybe you could benefit from learning more nutrition skills for helping women recover postpartum. Or,  you might want to deepen your mindfulness skills to help your work with women with anxiety.

Finally, find a professional education program with a focus on your niche population to deepen your ability to be a confident and effective specialist. If you want to specialize in working with women with common women’s health issues like fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, menopause, pelvic and sexual health, female athletes, or women’s cancers, you’ll want to explore The Women’s Health Coach Certification.  If you desire to work with children, diabetics, or other specialty populations, explore the ICHWC approved programs in other specializations.

Join us in The Women’s Health Coach Certification Program. Get top quality women’s health coaching and nutrition skills to support your clients to reach their health goals. Specialize in puberty, female athletes, menstrual health, birth control recovery, fertility, postpartum, perimenopause, and general hormone health. Learn more here.