Wellness Coaching: Optimizing Wellness for Student Success

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What is a wellness coach?

A wellness coach is a staff person who works in partnership with students to optimize their well-being. The coach serves as a non-judgmental guide and supports students in establishing goals that are self-directed and rooted in personal values. Wellness coaches embody a spirit of compassion and acceptance and hold the belief that each student is the expert on their own life.

Wellness Coaches at the University of Michigan are trained staff from Wolverine Wellness, professional staff across the university, and graduate students. We strive to include diverse identities in coaches and strongly believe in helping students manage the injustices that continue in this country. View a list of current wellness coaches at the bottom of this webpage. During a wellness coaching session, students can expect to:  

  • Examine personal values and motivation for change 
  • Address stressors from a variety of sources, from adjusting to life on campus to experiences of social injustice, changes in our political environment (e.g., Roe v. Wade) and environmental concerns, etc. 
  • Learn new skills and coping strategies such as time management, mindfulness, moving your body in enjoyable ways, having difficult conversations, and intuitive eating. 
  • Set and accomplish goals

How to schedule your first session

1. Review types of coaching 

Explore your use of alcohol, cannabis and other drugs in a non-judgmental environment. Decide what, if any, changes to use you'd like to make.

  • Typically two sessions, two to four weeks apart.
  • First session is 90 minutes and second session is 60 minutes.
  • Two more sessions may be available, if requested.
  • Can be required by OSCR or Court
  • We encourage self-referrals.

Discuss strategies for quitting nicotine products.Suitable for anyone who is vaping, smoking, or using smokeless tobacco products. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is available at no cost for students who participate in coaching. Learn more about the risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting.

Wellness coaching from a Health At Every Size perspective provides a non-judgmental space for clients to explore how to take care of their holistic well-being without focusing on weight or weight loss. Our coaching sessions are structured to cover the following content

  • Session 1: Eating and body image exploration through discussion and exercise(s). Discuss intake assessments as necessary.
  • Session 2: Examine diet culture and the dominant narrative surrounding bodies and eating. Use avenues like body appreciation, media literacy, and broadening the conception of beauty to challenge unhelpful beliefs and behaviors.
  • Session 3: Investigate the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
  • Session 4: Next steps. Can include long-term goal discussion, referrals, and connection to community resources.

Discuss interpersonal relationships of any kind (e.g., friendships, dating, family, workplace), including communication; skills and boundary-setting, conflict resolution; and more.

  • Talk about how relationships may be changing; with parents or other close connections.
  • Discuss difficult relationships; in a supportive, non-judgmental environment.
  • Identify what a healthy relationship is and how to improve a relationship.
  • Figure out what you want in a relationship.

Discuss sexual health and pleasure questions or concerns, such as exploring your sexual identity and communicating with sexual partners. 

  • Clarify needs and wants in sexual activity.
  • Process an STI diagnosis or sexual challenge.
  • Ask questions, address sexual wellness goals, and receive general sexuality education.

Covers topics not listed above such as sleep issues, adjustment to U-M, academic concerns, imposter syndrome, stress management, physical health and more.

We have regular, rotating groups throughout the year. Check back for current offerings!

Hacking College Life with a Chronic Illness and/or Disability

You are invited to join a six-week, peer-led wellness coaching group facilitated by current and former students who identify as having a disability or chronic health condition. This group aims to foster community and explore topics including self-advocacy, ableism, self-pacing, boundary setting, and self-compassion.

Every Wednesday from 7:30-8:30 p.m. EST
October 4 – November 8, 2023
Zoom (link provided after registration)

Led by: Sarah Renberg and Carina Burgher

Complete Registration via our online scheduler below! Please select  “WC Group” as your coaching type when completing the intake form. 

*Note this is a closed group. Students who register for the October 4th meeting will be able to attend any/all sessions. To preserve group dynamics, registration will close after the first session.

2. Visit our online scheduler to complete the intake forms

Please note: we can only accept your uniqname@umich.edu address. 

3. Click the link for Classes calendar or wait for the "Next Steps" email from U-M Wellness Coaching

Select a time and location that works best for you. We offer Zoom and in-person meetings. 

If you are out of the country and your time zone does not align with our calendar, please email wellnesscoachingQs@umich.edu and include your availability and time zone. 

Plan for your first session

  • Allow enough time: Take note of the length of time for each type of session. Most first sessions will be 60 minutes except for the first Alcohol and Other Drug sessions, which are 90 minutes.  
  • Know where and how you are meeting your coach: Flag your registration email with Zoom link if you are meeting virtually. If you are meeting in person, ensure you know how to get to University Health Service (207 Fletcher Street, Wolverine Wellness is on the ground floor) or other location, depending on your coach.  
  • Complete all paperwork: In addition to the intake forms, you will receive a brief mental health questionnaire via email 24 hours before your first appointment.  

Accessibility needs

If you require any specific accommodation to ensure you will have a successful and comfortable coaching session, please email your coach directly prior to your first appointment (email can be found on their biography below). Accommodations can include but are not limited to:

  • Using clear masks for lip reading. 
  • Using the South entrance for wheelchairs or mobility concerns. 
  • Using the chat feature to converse with your coach on Zoom rather than speaking.

Wellness doesn’t have to wait until your coaching appointment!

You might consider using these tools while waiting for your first appointment:

Wellness coaching is not

For treatment of clinical depression or anxiety, unpacking family history, eating disorders, managing bipolar disorders, or other complex mental health issues. If you are unsure whether wellness coaching will meet your needs, please email wellnesscoachingQs@umich.edu for guidance to the best support:

Students can visit the UHS Registered Dietician Nutritionist. Call 734-764-8320 to schedule an appointment.

  • STI testing: Contact UHS at 734-764-8320 and ask for a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) assessment.  
  • HIV testing: Testing is every Monday from 1-4 PM. Appointments are required (same-day appointments are not available, so please call no later than Friday). HIV counselors are well-versed in STI prevention as well. You can make an appointment by calling Wolverine Wellness at 734-763-1320. This is a confidential rapid test, and the results will not be a part of your medical record.  

Questions or concerns?

If you need to cancel or reschedule your wellness coaching appointment, please contact your coach directly using the email address provided in your session registration confirmation email. You may also log in to your portal to cancel your session and select a new day and time that works for you.

For all other inquiries: 

Email: wellnesscoachingQs@umich.edu

Phone: 734-763-1320

Related staff

Joy Pehlke, M.Ed.

Joy Pehlke headshot
Assistant Director, Student Engagement & Academic Partnerships | Wellness Coach | Adjunct Lecturer, LSA
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model of well-being