Frequently Asked Questions
About the program and course of study
It's true that you can get a health coaching certificate with 20-60 hours of work with a private training firm. Our program is different. We offer our coaching certificate as part of the course of study for an accredited master's degree. It is more academically oriented and grounded in coaching research and behavior change theory. You will learn to support lifestyle change and to work with other health care professionals.
Our curriculum not only goes into depth on the basic health science, but includes an integral mind/body/spirit approach, honoring indigenous wisdom and instructing students in applied coaching psychology with year-long mentorship courses and authentic leadership. You will study leading theories and evidence-based models, including Motivational Interviewing, Transtheoretical Model, Positive Psychology, Internal Family Systems, Non-Violent Communication, and Enneagram for Coaching.
Graduates meet the eligibility requirements to sit for the ICHWC Certifying Examination required for health and wellness coaches to become National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coaches (NBC-HWC). A graduate degree sets you apart and holds good value in a shifting job market.
Many organizations offer programs that are fully online, which allow you to learn and study exclusively in your home community. We love online learning, but we want you to have the chance to learn in person with your student colleagues and with faculty even as you meet online. We therefore include in each semester a six-day academic intensive at EarthRise in Petaluma, CA (about 30 minutes north of the Golden Gate bridge). During the fall retreat, we will also visit the CIIS campus, so that you can meet the administrative and library staff who support your journey. You can read student responses to the intensive here.
Full-time students in our program take 9 units each semester; that translates to about 36 hours of coursework each week. Part-time students, who have 6 units each semester, should plan on 24 hours of coursework each week.
Some of that coursework will be synchronous online classes, partner work, or study sessions. The specific days and times of required online classes will available when you register; partner work will be scheduled after classes begin. If you have responsibilities like a job, it is best to have a plan or flexibility for the synchronous meetings and partner work. The asynchronous parts of your coursework are easily scheduled around your other commitments.
While many of our graduates practice health coaching as solo practitioners, others use their MAs in medical offices, CAIM clinics, corporate wellness programs, and apps. You will study evidence-based knowledge and skills that can be applied to a variety of careers. Read more here. We recommend that students who want to work in corporate settings or for large organizations, either as health coaches or in wellness programs, follow the companies they are interested in on Twitter or LinkedIn to see how these organizations are integrating wellness into their cultures.
Our candidates come with a variety of interests and backgrounds; most want to learn more about integrative and holistic health so that they can work as health coaches in some way. Our students excel in collaborative learning and mutual support, and form a strong community for each other. Attending an online info session is a great way to learn more about the people who might be joining you in the program, and to talk directly with faculty about your interests and how the program may align with them. It's not necessary to have a health degree or experience.
Graduates of our program form strong bonds, which are sustained through Facebook and events. Many graduates have hired other graduates and helped each other find jobs; you can find some examples here. CIIS has a careers office that will help with resume writing and interview skills. That office and ours send out job listings, and we also post jobs to our LinkedIn group.
Preventative health and integrative healing modalities are central to many people, and as a result, health coaches are taking more of a role in established health care. One sign of this is that the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) partnered with the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching (ICHWC) to issue the national certification exam for health and wellness coaches. We also know that doctors at the US Department of Health and Human Services and with the CDC are exploring how to bring health coaching into hospitals and clinics as we know that changing behavior is crucial to addressing rising chronic disease rates. Further, many of our graduates are developing health coaching and mindfulness apps. Other graduates are working to bring health coaching to under-served populations.
Guided imagery is invaluable healing technique for health and wellness coaches, and integrative wellness practitioners. Our course Transformative Imagery is taught in the fall semester by Leslie Davenport, MFT, a leading author and teacher in the field. All students in the program will take the course and, upon successful completion, be awarded a certificate in guided imagery.
The course is also available for 45 hours of continuing education credits for MFTs and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavior Sciences. CIIS is BBS Provider #PCE652. Requirements for CEUs include: Attendance at all in-person and online classes over the 15-week semester; demonstrated proficiency through dyad work, with informal and formal mentored observations; completion of all written assignments, including an academic paper; completion of an additional 12 hours of practice sessions. For more information, and to learn how to register, please contact our program manager.
Our program has been awarded 100 ACSTH Approved Coach Specific Training Hours as an International Coach Federation (ICF) approved site. These hours can be applied toward the professional coach certifications offered by ICF.
We have a Facebook page and a LinkedIn group where we feature the work of students, graduates, and integrative wellness organizations. We also have an IHL YouTube channel where you can watch health coaching demonstrations, and find playlists of other videos we like (including those featuring our chair, Dr. Meg Jordan).