by Alyssa Protsman, MS, CWP
Guiding or supporting someone on their personal wellness journey is a big responsibility and a great privilege. It is imperative that we continue to learn from our experiences and inform our practice with new research and proven strategies as we adapt to the needs of our population. But when we rely only on our learned theory and “best practices” to determine what solutions and strategies to pursue, we often miss an incredible opportunity to lean into and develop how we show up and connect authentically with the people we want to serve.
As wellness professionals, our ability to humble ourselves and practice curiosity and compassion helps us to build trust and create long-term opportunities for self-discovery, self-care, and self-improvement. Supporting change in an individual or in an organization must begin with planting seeds for a psychologically safe environment and offering opportunities and helpful strategies for inter- and intra-personal reflection, connection, and courageous conversation.
The NWI Wellness Promotion Competency Model reveals evidence-informed competencies related to authenticity and self-awareness that, when strengthened, allow wellness professionals to serve their clients and communities with a greater impact. The four wellness promotion competencies with the model’s Authenticity and Self-awareness domain include:
- Engage in ongoing reflection to expand personal growth and professional development in multiple dimensions of wellness.
- Demonstrate commitment to wellness promotion by modeling healthy lifestyle practices in multiple dimensions of wellness
- Establish authentic and autonomy-supportive relationships
- Recognize your own limitations in wellness promotion and refer individuals to other professionals when appropriate to support their wellness goals.
As wellness professionals, we must realize that we are not selling a product. We are selling relationships. It could be a relationship with a coach, a trainer, a health educator, a counselor, or other specialist. If someone is going to buy into the lifestyle you are selling, you will first need to earn their respect and their trust. Once we establish this connection, then we slowly introduce meaningful and timely education, resources, and support that help them heal and strengthen their relationship with self. Using the Six Dimensions of Wellness as a guide, we can offer exercises or referrals to help individuals invest in their relationship with their physical, emotional, social, intellectual, occupational, and spiritual wellness.
Showing up as an authentic and self-aware practitioner reveals confidence, credibility, and compassion to put others at ease, meet them where they are, and engage them through the stages of change in all dimensions of their wellness so that they can function optimally in their current environment.
Opportunities for Reflection
As a wellness professional, how can you show up with humility and curiosity to better assess the needs and challenges of the individual?
How can you attract and engage your audience while earning their trust?
How can you create a safe space where individuals can connect with their own needs and have the willingness to take the next step forward?