The Five Arms Health Coaching Model


A Coaching Model By Andrea Fisk, Health Coach, UNITED STATES

A Little Bit About the Name:

I have been practicing Chinese medicine for 24 years. It is a beautiful and complex framework for approaching health and well-being. In Chinese medicine, we have five phases that organize the functional relationships in the body, they are all equal in importance and necessary for balance. The inter-relationship of these five phases creates the flow of Qi or energy in the body. Feng Shui, which is the Chinese art of organizing environments, designates the number five as the most positive for health and well-being. The goal of Feng Shui is to continue to keep the energy flowing smoothly in our environments, bodies, minds, and spirits. Like the 5 phases, these Feng Shui positions are also synergistic, working together, while the energy flows between all of them as needed. I am respectfully crediting these paradigms as the foundation for The Five Arms Coaching Model.

The Foundation for the Five Arms Coaching Model

When we were asked to create a coaching model as part of the ICA program I initially struggled with the gap between learning pure coaching and synthesizing this with my own knowledge, in my area of expertise. I have had very limited experience with health coaching models. My search led to athletic achievement-based models, diet-based models, or prescriptive health and wellness models that didn’t appear to allow for individual client concerns.

I recognized that I wanted to work in a way that was fluid, and adaptable with a pure coaching base. I arrived at the Five Arms Coaching Model after spending time really thinking about who I wanted to serve and where I see a gap in health care. Currently in the United States healthcare is controlled by individual health insurance companies that offer a “plan” for a monthly fee. There is often a lot of difficulty understanding what your benefits are and who you can actually access for care. Primary care medical appointments are on average 15-20 minutes long and clients often leave feeling overwhelmed and under-supported, especially if they have a chronic condition. Seniors, disabled persons, as well as people in the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities are all especially at risk for negligent care. The chronically ill often arrive in my office exhausted, overwhelmed, underinformed, and feeling completely disempowered about their health and their futures. My hope is that the 5-arm Coaching Model can help them turn that around.

Five Arms Health Coaching Model

The Model:

The Five Arms include what I consider to be foundational needs that must be met to shift a person into a place of ownership and power with their health condition: Listening, Investigating, Educating, Mindset shifts, and Empowerment.

Listening is the beginning of all healthy relationships and is integral to making this process successful. As the coach my ability to listen is crucial to being able to highlight and identify where the learning, mindset shifts, and empowerment can be cultivated in the client’s life. I’m listening to understand the client’s current situation, as well as listening to better understand what part of their condition is getting in the way of them living the life they want.

Another meaningful aspect of listening is to grow the client’s ability to listen to their own body. Some individuals are excellent at tuning out pain and suffering, but then lose the awareness to receive messages that help them set limits, or reach out for support. Other people may feel overcome by the messages their bodies send them and can’t shut them out.

Establishing an environment where listening is essential will help to generate trust and safety as well as build a stronger relationship for the client with their body. Often times people with chronic conditions feel like their bodies have “let them down”. Listening is one step towards establishing a loving relationship with their body and will support greater advocacy in health care settings which generates empowerment.

Investigation and Education are essential for a true understanding of a health presentation, understanding what treatment options are available, and making choices about how to proceed. This is where consulting and coaching will come together as needed in the Five Arm Model.

By investigate I mean researching the facts with current peer-reviewed articles and source texts. The process of investigation could be done either by me or the client. The goals of the investigation would be decided by the client and could be carried out by either of us. The client might need a better baseline understanding of what is going on with their health or they may want to better understand a new treatment that has been offered. The education represents the client developing a greater understanding of what is functionally happening in their body when they feel symptoms. This connects listening with understanding and generates empowerment.

Investigation and education are currently missing in health care in the United States today. It is key to individual empowerment. I have yet to treat a patient that didn’t want to better understand their condition, and how that shows up as symptoms on a day-to-day basis. In my experience, this enhanced understanding consistently leads to better advocacy in healthcare settings and a greater sense of ease about their condition.

As part of the education process, it is helpful to understand how a client learns best. Would they like to receive links to articles and research without any elaboration? Or do they need a face-to-face personal explanation where they can ask questions in real-time, with links emailed on the side? Since the education is for their benefit it needs to suit their learning style and needs as well. Receiving information that accommodates personal learning needs creates a greater sense of empowerment and continues to build trust and safety in the process.

Mindset shifts can help the client break through disempowering beliefs, attitudes, and judgments about their condition or themselves. Some of these limiting beliefs may shift through the process of investigation and education, but some may still be around causing the person to doubt their assets. This is where pure coaching can really be put to work in the Five Arms Coaching Model. As the client and I are working together I will be asking the client to write down limiting beliefs or judgments that they notice coming up in their daily lives outside of session. These can be about their bodies, their health conditions, their futures, or any other belief they have that they feel is limiting them. We can work together, with the client leading us to what they feel would be most helpful to work through in our coaching sessions. Just the process of calling out what is limiting can be empowering.

Empowerment is the ultimate goal and will hopefully be happening throughout the process. It will be important as a coach if I notice a shift in my client’s empowerment that I offer it up as an observation. Empowerment gives them a broader lens on their future. Empowerment is also the client noticing where they are standing in their own way of success. Empowerment allows a client to be a more successful self-advocate and self-coach. Empowerment always leads to better health outcomes.

My Ideal Clients:

Someone who has just been diagnosed with a disease and needs support. Someone who has had a chronic condition for a long time, and needs to regain momentum to keep managing it.

Someone who has been offered treatment options through specialists or primary care and is having a difficult time knowing what to do. Someone who is caring for an individual with a chronic condition. Anyone who is widowed, single, or needs a health partner.

Anyone having a hard time doing the things they want in life because of their chronic condition.

Anyone who works in the healthcare industry. Because when you care for others all day long it’s essential to care for yourself!

Learn How to Create Your Own Coaching Model

Your Coaching Model reflects your values,
philosophies, and beliefs and must communicate who you will coach
and the problems you will solve.
Read more about creating your coaching model

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