NSHC Code of Ethics - Core Competencies - Health Coach Practice Standards

NSHC Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice are based on those of the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, and the International Coaching Federation.

NSHC Code of Ethics

An NSHC Certified Health Coach:

  1. May use the credential of NSHC Certified Health Coach only after passing the NSHC certification exam or recertification, if there is no breach of the NSHC code of ethics and/or standards of practice, and if one’s professional license is unencumbered and current with the issuing body and in NSHC's database. 
  2. Uses NSHC health coach certification only within the limits of one’s professional State Practice Act and/or other professional certification.
  3. Adheres to all ethical standards of practice for his/her respective healthcare profession, including maintaining an active, unencumbered license, registration or special certification to practice.
  4. Maintains the strictest level of privacy and confidentiality with all patient information.  Adheres to all HIPAA regulations.
  5. Participates in professional activities that contribute to the health coaching community and the improvement of care quality, health outcomes, and reduced healthcare costs.
  6. Truthfully identifies his/her coaching qualifications, NSHC credential, expertise, and experience.
  7. Makes clear to the employer or to the client what can reasonably be expected of his/her certified health coaching services.
  8. Strives to ensure that the patient fully understands the terms of the coaching relationship.
  9. Recommends the client seek another coach if it is believed that he/she can no longer meet the client’s needs.
  10. Discloses to the client any third-party remuneration that comes to him/her as a result of the referral of the same client.
  11. Openly discloses any conflict of interest to the client and offers to remove self from the coaching relationship when such is identified or realized
  12. Provides health coaching in a nonjudgmental and nondiscriminatory manner that meets the diverse needs of the client while preserving the client's autonomy and dignity.
  13. Strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the client.
  14. Refrains from knowingly condoning any client behavior that would jeopardize safety or have untoward or adverse consequences
  15. Avoids sexual, racial, or other forms of discrimination.
  16. Refrains from a sexual or personally inappropriate relationship with clients, their caregivers or providers.
  17. Respects the right of the client to terminate the coaching relationship at any time.

NSHC Standards of Practice

 NSHC Certified Health Coach:

  1. Maintains current, unencumbered NSHC certification in order to call oneself an NSHC Certified Health Coach. *Note: “Current, valid certification” includes a passing grade on one’s initial certification or recertification examination, there is no breach of the NSHC code of ethics and/or standards of practice, and one’s professional license is unencumbered and current with the issuing body and in NSHC's database. 
  2. Ongoing studies to continually apply and advance the practice of evidence-based health coaching within the healthcare community.
  3. Stays abreast of new or changing evidence-based health coaching knowledge and skills.
  4. Collaborates with other health care professionals to promote evidence-based health coaching at the community, national and international levels.
  5. Accepts full responsibility for one’s own health coaching practice.
  6. Recommends the resources or expertise of another healthcare professional when deemed necessary either by self or client.
  7. Offers an agreement or contract for services to the client if remuneration is part of the coaching relationship. The agreement or contract should describe the services to be rendered and outline remuneration for the same.
  8. Uses evidence-based practice interventions when integrating health teaching into the health coaching session.
  9. Guides the client to set realistic, safe, obtainable goals.
  10. Takes opportunities to collect health coaching outcomes data for aggregation, trending, and application.

    Note: The NSHC may hold its members accountable for a breach of any part of its Ethics and/or Standards of Practice and may impose sanctions including, but not limited to withdrawing one’s membership or imposing a loss of NSHC credentials.

NSHC Core Competencies

Core competencies for health coaches given here are based on theoretical principles, science, and clinical practice guidelines. Patients/clients identify their own specific concerns as the focus throughout the coaching relationship, regardless of whether the relationship is sustained or brief.  Evidence-based core competencies are validated through licensure, NSHC's certification exam and skills competency testing. These include:

  • Active, unencumbered professional license to practice in a clinical setting 
  • NSHC Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
  • Shared decision making regarding the treatment plan
  • Spirit of the health coaching relationship as a 50/50 patient-provider partner in health
  • Active Listening
  • Communication
  • Transtheoretical Model of Change
  • Generational and Societal Influences on Behavior Change
  • Cultural Competence
  • Goal-setting
  • Guiding the Agenda
  • Mindfulness
  • Motivational Interviewing
    • Open-ended questions
    • Affirmation
    • Reflection
    • Summary
    • Avoiding discord/managing resistance
    • Client Empowerment
  • Telephonic Coaching
  • Evidence-based clinical practice interventions for wellness and prevention
                                                                                                         Update: Oct 2020