Health coach

As a health coach, speech therapists raise awareness in individuals and groups for their own health situation with the aim of stimulating social participation. On the one hand, speech therapists coach individual clients on how to generate support from their environment and take control of their situation. In doing so, speech therapists focus on the individual needs and capabilities of the client. Speech therapists are also partly responsible for encouraging health skills among their clients. On the other hand, speech therapists carry out preventative activities, such as screening and informing risk groups to identify problems and prevent problems from developing or getting worse. Another important task of the health coach is to promote the expertise and effectiveness of professionals and volunteers in the fields of childcare, education, health care and business by offering individual or group information, training and coaching sessions.  The goal is to bring about behavioural change in the target group with respect to communication and swallowing and to support and guide the target group. In the broader social context of prevention, speech therapists profile themselves as innovative networkers and health information officers within integrated forms of cooperation.

Core Activities

  • Identifying and creating conditions and opportunities for optimal participation of individual clients in their own environment;
  • Stimulating individual clients to take control of their own health by promoting their health skills;
  • Sharing responsibilities between clients and speech therapist;
  • Identifying and selecting potential risk groups;
  • Identifying and analysing health problems and risk factors;
  • Selecting, planning and implementing prevention activities for risk groups;
  • Implementing measures for continued healthy behaviour in risk groups.

Examples of professional activities

  • Identifying and creating conditions and opportunities for optimal participation in consultation with clients;
  • Conducting coaching sessions in which clients are given the room to take control of their own health situation;
  • Determining the goals, steps, resources and division of responsibilities needed to achieve optimal participation, in consultation with the client;
  • With respect to immediate accessibility, identifying and interpreting (medical) red flags for underlying pathologies, risk factors and potential communication problems/swallowing problems;
  • Making referrals to other disciplines;
  • Identifying and selecting existing and new groups with an increased risk of communication/swallowing problems;
  • Developing or contributing to the development of an inter-professional prevention plan that meets the needs of the target group with respect to their health problems;
  • Encouraging self-management among the target group;
  • Screening groups or individuals for potential communication/swallowing problems;
  • Informing risk groups and involved professionals about preventing, reducing and treating communication/swallowing problems and protecting and improving health;
  • Educating, training and coaching professionals and volunteers on the participation and social participation of clients and target groups.


Level 1: Novice
In a simulation situation or at the instruction of an educator, speech therapy students carry out individual coaching activities and prevention activities as part of a case study assigned by the educator that consists of common risks and simple communication or swallowing problems. The educator makes the required information available, structures the tasks, sets the criteria and provides detailed instructions. The approach and the course of action is systematic and follows protocols and guidelines.

Level 2: Advanced beginner
In a simulation or practical situation and at the instruction of the educator, speech therapy students carry out coaching and prevention activities for clients as part of a case study involving common communication or swallowing problems. Students collect some or all of the required information themselves. Students work systematically and take initiative in accordance with the protocols and guidelines governing the execution of tasks. Students justify their choices from the perspective of the client and the therapist and evaluate and reflect on the execution of tasks and the results.

Level 3: Competent
Speech therapists function in unfamiliar and changing practical situations and indicate, decide and act independently when coaching clients and carrying out prevention activities with respect to (potential) communication and swallowing problems and the participation of clients and client groups. As coaches, speech therapists can transfer control to clients and share responsibility of the process and the results with clients. In doing so, speech therapists demonstrate an ability to solve complex and unpredictable problems. Speech therapists carry out health-promoting activities efficiently and within the agreed timeframe and take responsibility for their own performance. Speech therapists adhere to protocols and guidelines and systematically evaluate the results, effectiveness and efficiency of the preventative activities undertaken.