The Coaching Academy BlogThe Coaching Academy Blog

28 Jul, 2009

Coaching and Healing

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Coach Plus Articles|Life Coaching Articles|NLP Articles

Coaching and Healing - Coaching Blog

We are fortunate to have a new approach to Wellness Coaching coming into being across the UK. I’d like to draw attention to recent unexpected research breakthroughs into what makes patients better.

Professor Kathy Sykes of Bristol University, asked in a BBC2 documentary series: Can complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) be demonstrated to be effective by research of a high scientific standard? As a trained physicist, she works with a wide range of scientific and healing colleagues in developing a range of ingenious experiments. She shows that, in many cases, under rigorous scrutiny and in controlled research conditions, alternative therapies appear to resolve major health problems.

The experiments that Professor Sykes’ teams devised generally demonstrated that, only with a trusted healer, do patients get better, regardless of the therapy chosen. Complementary and Alternative Medicine works where there is: a trusted remedy—the real thing or a placebo, a trusted healer deploying the remedy, and, most importantly, the patient’s expectation of success.

The Placebo + Healing + Expectation Theory

In many cases of scientifically inexplicable healing, the key variable may not be the technique but the act of attentive and committed healing by a trusted professional using a method the patient expects to be effective. Therefore, spiritual healing seems to work for numbers of individuals in large auditoriums. It works for individual healers laying on hands in communities all over the globe. It works for osteopathy, acupuncture and for homeopathy. It works for animals experiencing healing as well as for human beings.

The placebo effect, in which patients, unbeknownst to them, are given ‘fake’ remedies in place of real ones, is much more powerful than previously believed and effectively demonstrates the key coaching principle, “As the mind conceives, the body follows.”

A particularly startling programme of research in senior teaching hospitals in the US state of Texas in recent years used specific surgery –in heart operations and arthritic knees – under carefully controlled experiments. It replaced established surgical procedures by placebo surgery, including cutting open of patients and a full simulacrum of surgery. In a wide range of patients, the benefits of surgery were achieved without adherence to textbook techniques.

Apparently, the human body is shocked by the act of surgery in the general region of ailment into carrying out healing on its own. Conversely, we know that where patients believe that they cannot be healed, they will surely get worse in spite of the use of proven methods – a finding in the field of cancer treatment that has repeatedly been replicated over 40 years of research.

Doctors themselves are today much more open to the power of placebo-enabled healing – the notion of an external stimulus which, without clinical explanation, triggers an internal healing process. Therefore, it is encouraging that NHS general practices introducing, for example, counselling, acupuncture, art therapy, and wellness coaching into their surgeries, in many case financed through NHS budgets. As well the continual popularity of the massage therapies, herbalism and homeopathy can be accounted for by this wider placebo + healing + expectation theory.

Implications for coaches

Can qualified coaches become specialist wellness coaches? Clearly, the answer may be yes; but only with additional training and a keen personal commitment to becoming integrated into healthcare teams.

The UK Government has recently decided that many persons receiving Incapacity Benefit because of long-term illness might be motivated to return to work, with appropriate support. One source of support might be a qualified coach who can release a person’s ability to heal himself or herself to the point where their self-confidence is restored. This healing may work best where retirement has come through stress and other psychosocial problems. In coming years, I anticipate that there will be many opportunities to introduce Wellness Coaching into healthcare settings.

By Grant Ledgerwood

Suggested resources:
Le Fanu, J (1999) The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine, Little Brown, London.
Gould, Francesca (2005) Anatomy and Physiology for Holistic Therapists, Nelson Thornes
McGuiness, Helen (2000) Holistic Therapies: An Introductory Guide, Hodder Arnold
Lewith, George, Understanding Complementary Medicine, Family Doctor Publications, British Medical Association
Peters, D (2001) Understanding the Placebo Effect in Complementary Medicine, Churchill Livingstone

9 Responses to "Coaching and Healing"

1 | Andrew Leigh

July 29th, 2009 at 9:19 am


Interesting. Thank you Grant.

The paradox is, I think, that understanding and believing in the power of placebo throws into question the various alternative vehicles for healing: spirituality, homoeopathy, etc., and so removes the placebo effect for that individual.

I guess that’s where the opportunity for coaches and others (suitably trained and regulated) arises – offering a belief in the power of self-belief that is backed up with training, trusted experience and evidence.

Thanks again for your vision, Grant

2 | Leila Pastecchia

July 29th, 2009 at 9:28 am


A recognised creditation in Coaching & Healing would allow credability to his title and install faith for possible clients/patients.

I would be pleased to see what the additional training would consist of as there are are many coaches with such a variety of additional skills and therapies that are offered.

3 | Julie Blunt

July 29th, 2009 at 9:36 am


Thank you for an excellent article, Grant. This really tallies with my recent experiences of working with prospective leaders in the NHS. I worked with groups covering many of the concepts we use in coaching – uncovering beliefs, emotional resilience strategies etc – and we had an really interesting discussion about how the NHS was becoming much more open to these ideas and how they could be used to heal patients.

Would be good to know what ‘additional training’ you feel would be needed by wellness coaches to give them the skills and credibility to work within healthcare teams.


4 | Jacqueline Pigdon

July 29th, 2009 at 2:20 pm


This is an excellent topic. I believe so much of both healing and achieving goals is in a person’s mindset.

I coach using spirituality and find it the key tool in helping my clients obtain their success and dramatic healing both on the inside and out. After having almost 7 years spiritual coaching training I have created an extremely insightful new MP3 audio titled

‘Life Lessons Through Sport’ where I share 3 unique and insightful stories my Spiritual Guider taught me that not only dramatically helped my in sports but in all other areas and truly changed my life forever…

Go to:

5 | Ulrick

July 29th, 2009 at 10:40 pm


Shouldn’t the equation be Placebo + Expectation = Healing?

6 | pina brickwood

October 19th, 2009 at 10:38 pm


i am very interested in healing coaching. would you so kind as to let me know when you have your next courses starting.
many thanks

7 | Barry Turner

September 17th, 2010 at 11:01 am


I believe I have many powers. I just need someone to give me the right recipe, show me how to use these powers.

8 | Andrea Maynard

November 10th, 2010 at 11:04 am


I am a qualified Therapist and this appears to be a good idear towards another perfessional qualification.
Please send me information on the course when it starts.

9 | Pedro Da Silva

November 10th, 2010 at 11:20 am


Thanks for your comment Andrea.

You can find information on all the courses we offer at

Comment Form

Blog Calendar

February 2019
« Oct    

  • Emma-Louise Elsey: CONGRATULATIONS to The Coaching Academy! I'm a bit late to the party here, but that's wonderful news. Well done for all your hard work and dedication
  • donna: That's me in that pic!!!!
  • Harry Singha: Great shout Thanks

About The Coaching Academy

The Coaching Academy is at the forefront of coach training worldwide. As the largest UK school for coaches, The Coaching Academy has developed a reputation for quality training and has trained over 30,000 people in coaching skills over the last ten years.

The team of trainers you will work with are hand-picked from the cream of the UK’s finest coaches and trainers... [read more...]

  FREE Coaching Report


  Please tick if you have attended or applied for our FREE Coaching Course:
FREE Coaching Report
Log in