Are you considering becoming a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC)? 

Wondering if Health Coach Institute’s NBHWC-approved Pathway Program is the right training program to prepare you for the Health & Wellness Coach Certifying Examination? 

Curious who’ll learn from inside Pathway and how you’ll learn? 

Today we’re chatting with a very special guest who can answer all of your questions—Pathway’s lead instructor, Brooke Jeffries! In addition to facilitating the Pathway program, Brooke is a national board-certified health and wellness coach and a clinical nutritionist, who has been working in the health and wellness industry for the past decade. 

Why HCI Created the Pathway Program

Hi Brooke, thanks for joining us today! Can you tell us what led to the creation of the Pathway Program and how it can support coaches on their career journey?

I’m so happy to be here and to talk about this really incredible program we created for coaches! We decided to create Pathway because HCI students told us they were interested in having a path to pursue national board certification. 

After the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching created rigorous program training standards, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work creating a new coaching certification program that exceeded those standards. It took us over a year to develop Pathway, and I am proud of what we created. At HCI, we like to be at the cutting edge of the coaching industry. 

One of the things that’s really great about Pathway is that it was designed to support coaches at any point in their coaching career. We have new coaches and students who have been coaching for many years, and we get great feedback from both ends of the spectrum. 

What’s especially unique about the course is its depth. The methodologies we teach inside Pathway are rich and robust, so there is always more to learn and new ways to grow.

For those who aren’t familiar, can you tell us a bit about NBHWC and its importance in the coaching industry?

NBHWC is an acronym for the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching—an independent non-profit organization made up of industry thought-leaders for health & wellness coach training and education programs. 

The mission of NBHWC is to lead the advancement of health & wellness coaching by establishing professional standards and collaborative partnerships. 

In 2016, the organization began working with the National Board of Medical Examiners to establish a board certification examination, which, at the time of this writing, has since certified more than 5,000 health & wellness coaches in the fields of healthcare, employee wellness, government, and private practice. NBHWC is committed to facilitating the integration of health & wellness coaches into the healthcare team, which is incredibly exciting. 

NBHWC partnered with the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs and secured Category III CPT codes for National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches effective January 1, 2020. Essentially this means that NBC-HWCs who work in healthcare are now using these codes to track patient outcomes from coaching. This CPT code advancement has resulted in greater awareness of health & wellness coaching, wider acceptance of the health & wellness coach onto healthcare teams, and job growth for the profession! 

The next phase of NBHWC’s initiative is advancing the profession to secure insurance payments for coaching services. This initiative is an ambitious endeavor that will ultimately help establish the coach as a critical healthcare team member. It is incredible to have the leaders in NBHWC advocating for our profession and that coaching services are reaching more people due to these efforts.

Wow—so exciting to hear. Can you talk a little bit about the progress HCI went through to get Pathway listed as an NBHWC-approved program?

It is a comprehensive process! NBHWC has provided specific standards for approved programs and the faculty instructors who can teach the curriculum. There are detailed guidelines for the curriculum, contact time, and practical skills development. The organization created national standards with extensive competencies, so NBHWC-trained coaches have similar proficiencies. 

The instructional hours required to involve coaching structure, coaching process, health and wellness, and ethics/legal considerations. The faculty requirements are just as rigorous. Faculty instructors are experienced coaches who have had specific synchronous training and often have master’s degrees in health and wellness. 

After designing and developing our course at HCI, we sent in our application and were required to graduate a cohort of students before receiving our NBHWC approval. After our first cohort, we had a two-hour virtual site visit with an NBHWC Program Reviewer. The virtual site visit was similar to a job interview. We presented Pathway, our philosophy, and our mission. The Program Reviewer asked us many questions about our program, our graduates, how we train on the required competencies, who teaches them, and how we assess our students. 

It could be a nerve-wracking experience, but our visit went splendidly. We were so delighted when the HCI Pathway program was approved! The process was intensive but worth it!

About The Pathway Program 

Let’s talk a bit about the program itself. Who was Pathway created for and how will the training benefit them?

Pathway is ideal for those wishing to become nationally-board certified coaches, who are interested in health and wellness coaching, or who just want to become more confident in their coaching and grow as coaches. 

We’ve had people who are completely new to the coaching profession join Pathway, and we’ve also had graduates of our foundational and grad-level coaching programs enroll in Pathway to build upon their existing skills and credentials. Many students enroll in Pathway who are healthcare professionals or are interested in doing corporate coaching. 

This is an academically rigorous program that’s not for the faint of heart, so students will exercise courage throughout the Pathway journey. But the feedback from graduates so far has been overwhelmingly positive and they’ve been very vocal about the impact Pathway has had on both their personal and professional lives. 

I know it was a goal for HCI to set the bar for NBHWC-approved courses when creating Pathway. Can you talk about how Pathway is different from other courses?

I think there are many things about Pathway that are different from other NBHWC- approved courses. I’ve taken several coaching courses over the years, and the most potent programs are the ones that challenge you in new ways. So Pathway includes a strong element of personal development that transforms every student in their journey. 

We use an HCI-exclusive wellness model, the Empowered Well-Being Model, to take a deep dive into well-being across eight dimensions of wellness. Our coaches do reflective activities based on this model and also use it with their coaching clients to help them become more empowered in their lives. 

Pathway’s content is a powerful mix of fun, engaging, and effective. We don’t just teach theory; we challenge our students to integrate the concepts they learn and put them into action! The program design allows one week for students to focus intensely on understanding the ideas, and the following week they practice putting skills into action through 1:1 coaching practice with their peers. We know integration of new knowledge and skills takes time, so we feel a six-month program is ideal for supporting students. 

The design of our live classes is a similar model. We don’t get on a podium and lecture to students; we introduce an idea and invite everyone to discuss topics openly and employ curiosity when hearing different perspectives. The learning is more robust, dynamic, and engaging when multiple perspectives are in the discussion. 

What part of the program are you most proud of as Pathway’s lead instructor?

Working with coaching students is an incredible gift, and I love the live classes and 1:1 mentorship I get to have with our inspiring students. The thing that makes me most proud of being a part of Pathway is that we teach students how to be more compassionate human beings. Students are kinder to themselves, to one another, and to everyone in their lives they touch. 

One concept we teach in Pathway is to practice unconditional positive regard with others. Unconditional positive regard is a humanistic psychology term that essentially means we extend empathy, support, and acceptance of another human, regardless of what they say or do. So even if someone is intentionally hurting us, we see their behavior as the suffering it represents and respond with presence, compassion, and understanding. I can’t overstate the power of transformation that occurs when a person feels truly seen, heard, and understood. 

These coaching techniques not only make us more empathetic coaches, but they also make us better partners, parents, children, and friends. Our students tell me all the time that they have improved relationships with not only their clients but also with all the other people in their lives because they stop trying to “fix” those people and shift to accepting and appreciating them. These are powerful healing tools for life. 

Have you had any feedback from students about what they find particularly valuable about Pathway? If so, can you share?

Students report growth of confidence in their coaching abilities and their ability to pass the national board exam with flying colors. Students also tell us how much they appreciate the depth of feedback on their coaching and kindness from our instructors and how supported they feel by their Pathway community. I can’t tell you how many times students have told me they make incredible new friendships with their peers. It is beautiful to be lifted up by a loving and accepting community, and lives are truly changed.

How Pathway is Taught & Getting to Know Brooke

As Pathway’s lead instructor, can you share a bit about your background?

I have been working in the health and wellness industry for the past decade. I am a national board-certified health and wellness coach and also a clinical nutritionist. My first career was as a head legal clerk for a judge in Houston, TX, before pursuing a master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics at Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. Over the years, I have worked in corporate coaching, managed a dietitian coach team, worked for a supplement company, and ran a successful nutrition counseling private practice before joining HCI in 2019. 

I was initially trained in Motivational Interviewing in grad school and still find this methodology one of the most effective for behavior change. I’m a lifelong learner and recently completed a yoga teacher training program that was fun. I only coach a small handful of clients these days, but I enjoy including more mindfulness and movement-based practices into my sessions. 

How would you describe your teaching style?

My teaching style is mostly a facilitatory style with delegation, demonstration, and traditional lectures sprinkled in to keep things dynamic. I operate from a position of kindness, openness, and curiosity. I love and respect all my students and do my best to ensure they feel seen and heard. My coaching skills make me a better educator because I am an active listener and invite different perspectives to our discussions. 

How will students interact with you inside the class?

Pathway is an interactive and engaging class! I will often begin our live sessions by leading us through a small centering or movement-based exercise to become present together. I will almost always provide a “question of the week” that is typically an appreciative inquiry-based question to get students thinking about their successes and strengths. For example, a question of the week I may ask is: “What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?” And then, students will go into small breakout groups and share their intimate and empowering life experiences. When students come back into the larger group, I’ll invite shares, and then we’ll shift to a short lecture. 

After a lesson, we’ll do an integration activity, whether coaching practice, reflective journaling, a demonstration, small group activities, or a funny exercise. The idea is, we get out of our headspace and into our bodies and heart-space. We make meaningful connections, we practice what we learn, we share our wisdom and lived experiences, and we have a lot of fun!

  1. What made you choose to teach at Health Coach Institute over other schools?

I chose to come to HCI because of the heart-centered community and company values that align with my values of creating a world where people are the healthiest versions of themselves. I am a very mission-driven person and would not be happy working for an institution with a vision I didn’t share. 

When I was interviewing, I remember asking HCI co-founder Carey Peters what excited her about the work she was doing, and I’ll never forget the passion she shared with me for transforming lives. I could feel the authenticity and electric connection in our exchange, and I knew I was where I was supposed to be. I get to work with a fantastic team at HCI, and I am so grateful for them and our diverse body of beautiful students.

What do you like most about training coaches?

It is personally fulfilling for me to train coaches. I love helping coaches to understand their unique strengths, sometimes for the first time in their lives! I get excited when they make a new connection, experiment with a different skill, celebrate their client, and develop greater self-compassion. Coaches are drawn to the profession because they want to help others, which is a beautiful thing. I am honored to help empower coaches, which trickles down to empowering their clients. Ultimately, we each contribute to a more peaceful, healthier, and loving world when we exercise mindfulness, acceptance, and compassion for one another.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to travel and eat good food! Some of my favorite places I have been able to indulge those passions are Sardinia (Italy), Beirut (Lebanon), and Crete (Greece). I am an animal lover and enjoy playing and cuddling with our dogs and cats. I also enjoy yoga, dancing, kickboxing, and running when I’m not reading a great book or listening to live music with my husband.

How to Know if Pathway is Right For You

Just one more question before we wrap up: What would you tell someone who’s trying to decide if Pathway is right for them?

My first response is to use my curiosity with the Pathway candidate and ask them from a place of genuine curiosity: “What kind of impact do you want to make in the world?”

Assuming we share similar values and they are receptive to my input, I would tell them I would be honored to partner with them on their coaching and personal growth journey and share my commitment to support them as an instructor and mentor. I would share how Pathway teaches you how to create and maintain a client-centered coaching relationship and be more present in everyday life. I would mention how we teach you how to help a client move through ambivalence to make effective change with the Motivational Interviewing techniques. I would share how we utilize Appreciative Coaching techniques to leverage the client’s strengths, rather than focusing solely on problems, to achieve the client’s desired outcomes. I would probably show them the HCI Empowered Well-Being Model of Wellness and chat with them about the eight dimensions of wellness and how to stay out of reactive distress. I would tell them about all the national board exam resources we built into Pathway to support our students’ confidence in their exam preparation. Lastly, I would share some of our students’ incredible transformational stories and successes with them. Pathway is worth investing in because you will leave the experience with a greater sense of self, a strong network of like-minded colleagues, and the confidence and clarity to empower others to become the best version of themselves.

Thank you for your time today, Brooke—you’ve given so many great insights into Pathway!

Learn More About Pathway from HCI

Interested in learning more about HCI’s Pathway program and how you can join the next cohort? Click the link below to view the course catalog and get program info.