After 16 years as a social worker, Deon Ambersley was looking for a way to build on her skills and help people better their lives from a different perspective of wellness. She wanted a reputable program that would consider her schedule as a working professional while giving her the tools to enhance her career. Ambersley enrolled in Humber College’s wellness coaching graduate certificate program, which focuses on promoting health and wellness and preventing or managing disease.
“There are both professional and personal benefits to the program,” says Ambersley, who graduated in April. “From a professional standpoint, you’ll learn a new skill set through a practical approach. From a personal standpoint, it holds up a mirror about how you can incorporate more wellness into your own life.”
Geared towards those with a diploma, advanced diploma or degree from a university or college in allied health fields, health sciences, fitness, kinesiology, social work, nutrition, nursing, health and wellness, or a related program, wellness coaching is two semesters. It blends online modules with in-person evening classes.
“I really liked the fact that it was a small class and all the students were really committed,” says Ambersley. “You also have a lot of opportunities to practice what you’re learning. There’s a practical element to all of the classes.”
The program covers a wide range of topics such as establishing effective coaching relationships, supporting sustainable behaviour change through practices such as motivational interviewing and mindfulness, and managing health and wellness programs. To apply what they learn, students have access to a host of experiential learning opportunities within Humber’s innovative Centre for Healthy Living. Through a 225-hour work placement, meanwhile, students implement what they have learned to the real world.
“The experience has been invaluable,” says Ambersley of the placement, which she completed at a cloud-based population health management solutions provider delivering patient engagement for chronic disease management. “You don’t want to get the credential and have the theory but not know how to put it into practice. The more you do it, the more confident you become and it was great to have that opportunity.”
The program prepares people to work as a wellness coach on their own or with an organization, or to bring the skills of coaching to their current job. Ambersley, who is now applying her newly acquired skills to her role as a counsellor working with those in the criminal justice system, says her goal is to get into practice with an allied health professional.
In addition to a graduate certificate, wellness coaching equips learners with Wellcoaches Core Coach Training (which sets them up to become a certified health and wellness coach), includes mental health first aid certification and has a pathway to a master's degree in health and wellness coaching at Creighton University through one extra year of online study. Humber is currently working with the Canadian Health Coach Alliance so students will be able to become a registered health coach in Canada.*
*As published in the Toronto Star.