What You Need to Know About the Health Coach Scope of Practice
As a health coach, do you know what your scope of practice is? Are you wondering what you are or aren’t allowed to do and say as a health coach?
Your scope of practice basically defines what you can and can’t do, say, and teach as a health coach.
The problem is, it’s really hard to figure out what your scope of practice actually is.
Technically speaking, a health coach’s scope of practice is defined on a state-by-state basis in the U.S.
But here’s the thing: 99% of my customers work online with clients from all over the U.S. (and world). So what’s a girl to do then?
And most states don’t even bother to define it for us. #thanksalot
Which just leaves us trying to read between the nutritionist-doctor-personal trainer lines to make sure you’re not doing anything that could get you in trouble.
When I had my own health coaching practice back in the day, I played it safe. I never gave advice (obvi) and always stuck strictly to the “coach” role.
That means lighting the path in front of someone (in case they can’t see it themselves), not defining or carving that path for them.
Clients typically ask if they can offer meal plans, suggest supplements, or coach someone through an elimination diet.
Or they’ll just ask what they are allowed to do in general ; )
Being a health or wellness coach is still a relatively new career. As so many new coaches enter the work force, and new programs sprout up to certify and train them, new questions arise as to what exactly is the scope of practice for a health coach.
So today, we’ll dive into the health coach scope of practice a little deeper.
What is a scope of practice?
Scope of practice laws are state-specific laws that tell you what you can and can’t do, what services you can offer, and how you can work with clients based on your qualifications. It dictates how you can work with clients, what you can teach them, coach them around, or give advice or information on.
Since being a health coach is still relatively new, most U.S. states don’t have any certification or registration process. And most don’t define what a health coach can do.
One trend I’m noticing is that states are starting to define who can talk about nutrition, meal planning, or how and what we eat. For example, New Jersey recently passed a law saying that no one can call themselves a ‘nutritionist’ unless they meet certain registration and education requirements. (See NJ’s Dietetics and Nutrition Licensing Act, which goes into effect in January 2021).
Until states do define what a health coach can do, you need to make sure your services, offerings, coaching, etc. don’t creep into the ‘scope of practice’ of another regulated, licensed group — like a registered dietitian, physician, therapist, etc.
For example, now that NJ has defined who can provide nutrition services, you can’t provide those types of services unless you meet the law’s requirements and education threshold.
Why do we need to know what our scope of practice is?
You need to know what the scope of practice is for being a health or wellness coach so you…
- Don’t get sued for doing something outside of it
- Aren’t held liable if you are sued
- Don’t hurt anyone (most important!)
- Keep the integrity of your certification or profession
- Play fairly with other coaches who are abiding by the scope
What is the scope of practice for a health coach?
It depends! Your scope of practice is defined by your training or certification program, state laws where you live/work, and the laws where you coach others. I’ve put together this super helpful Scope of Practice checklist for you to help you learn how you can stay within the scope of practice where you live and work:
How do I make sure my clients know who/what I am?
Easy! I actually teach you my 5-step strategy to legally protect yourself and your business in my free on-demand video workshop ‘5 Steps to Legally Protect & Grow Your Online Business’ HERE.
Your website disclaimer tells not only your clients, but anyone who visits your website or reads your blog posts who you are and what you do. Then, you include disclaimer language again in your client agreement. Finally, fully protect yourself by including a mini-disclaimer on all of your handouts and PDFs, since you never really know who’s ending up with them.
Know The Laws Where Your Clients Live
It’s important to get familiar with the health coach regulations in all states, since you’re likely seeing clients in states other than yours. If you do something really specific and unique (like interpreting DNA tests, supplement recommendations, meal planning, etc.), look and see if you’re operating in any “red states.” See if what you’re doing is allowed and whether you qualify for any exemptions
Ready to legally protect your business? Free Legal Workshop! 👇
If you’re not sure what you’re doing and offering is kosher, I’m here to help.
Watch my free legal workshop “5 Steps to Legally Protect & Grow Your Online Business“
In the 1-hour free training I’ll teach you…
- The mindset shift you have to make when it comes to legally protecting your business (HINT: Fear is blocking your revenue, my dear.)
- How registering your business protects you personally
- What your website needs to be legally protected
- How contracts can totally save your (vegan) bacon
- The #1 way to keep copycats from stealing your content (It’s not what you think!)
…plus, I’ll give you real case studies so you can see how my customers have used my training and support to feel confident and protected in their business.
Oh, and you know what’s really different about this workshop?
You choose the schedule.
Because this knowledge is WAY too important to just host on a one-time livestream and let you miss out if you’ve got a schedule conflict.
So I’m letting you choose the best time for you to attend.
You can choose a time that works for you to join us right here 👇🏽👇🏽
Be sure to check your email after you sign up, because that’s where I’ll send the link to the video workshop.
At the end of that workshop, I’ll share with you about my signature program — the Ultimate Bundle™. The Bundle gives you 10 DIY Legal Templates AND 35+ on-demand video trainings where you learn how to get paid, legally setup your business, safely work with clients online, and protect your content from copycats.