Coaching in action

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Working with a health and wellbeing coach

Many people are referred to a health and wellbeing coach by their GP. People can also sometimes self-refer to health and wellbeing coaching services if they are available in their area. Coaching sessions normally last between 30 minutes to an hour, over a minimum number of weeks - usually at least six. They can take place in a GP surgery, cafe, community centre or in someone's home.

We know that understanding and keeping track of medications, tests, appointments are important. The often multiple health conditions, some patients have to manage, inevitably affects their emotions and daily lives. Feeling confident about managing all of this, can be a challenge. 

Health and wellbeing coaching is non-judgemental. Coaches do not 'tell people what to do'. They focus on practical , manageable steps people can take to reach their health and wellbeing goals, aiming to help people increase their knowledge, skills and confidence. 

Coaches come from many different backgrounds and have experience talking about a whole range of subjects including:

  • managing pain and fatigue
  • preparing for appointments
  • finding information to understand conditions and treatments
  • feeling more confident getting out and about 
  • building a network of support
  • accepting and coming to terms with having a health condition 


Alexandra HWBC

Alexandra Kyriakidis is a health and wellbeing coach who works closely with GPs and staff in five Waltham Forest GP surgeries. Alex's route to health and wellbeing coaching began in the stressful corporate world of sales and marketing. 

To relieve the stress, Alex began taking better care of her mental health through meditation, fitness and alternative therapies. "I was interested in looking different modalities, ways to improve my energy levels and began training in life coaching eventually setting up my own private practice.

"I love working with patients. It's so rewarding seeing people work on their mindset to make the really positive changes they want and need to have to be healthier and happier. Every persons situation is different and there are many different reasons why someone is referred for coaching."

What does a health and wellbeing coach do?

A health and wellbeing coach can help people to gain the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to take responsibility for their lifestyle choices and provide personalised care. They use their broad knowledge of health and wellness to help patients navigate a variety of health concerns, empowering them to actively take part in their own care and behaviour change.  

'Success' in health and wellbeing coaching is whatever the patient wants to achieve, and GPs have an important part to play in knowing which patients may benefit from health and wellbeing coaching.

At the Addison Road surgery, Dr. Cooney referred a pre-diabetic patient to Alex for health and wellbeing coaching. 

Alex explains what happened next. "Following a conversation with Dr. Cooney, I saw the patient within two weeks of the referral as this was classed as urgent due to the pre-diabetic status. In the first session, the patient feedback was that the time Dr. Cooney spent with her initially discussing her diet, had made a real difference.

"The Patient said that after the appointment she completely changed her diet; has cut out all cakes and junk food, bar low fat small biscuits, and has been eating much more healthily with a lot of fruit. 

"She felt that something really shifted when Dr. Cooney spoke to her, that he helped her to see that by changing her diet she could impact her own health and wellbeing.

"Since then we have had four sessions, with two more remaining, where we've been focusing on healthier living and also on mindset she needs to maintain the changes she has made. The patient is still adopting the healthier eating which she says, 'is not a diet but a lifestyle now'.

"This patient has also reached out for further support.  She's joined a CBT group as she has become aware that she would like to focus more on her mental health and mindset. She took positive action to continue development when our sessions finish. Ultimately, she has made significant life changes and is committed to her wellbeing now.

"I feel this highlights really well how Doctor's and H&WC's can work together, communicate well, and make a positive difference at such a crucial time for a patient."

Updated: 05/10/2022