Health Coaching Lawyer Reveals Secrets to Health Coaching Laws

Health Coaching Lawyer Reveals Secrets to Health Coaching Laws

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In today’s video, we talk about some secret that health coaches must know before launching on the market and getting in trouble with the law for health coaching.

I’m Michael H. Cohen, founding attorney of the Cohen Healthcare Law Group. We help healthcare industry clients navigate healthcare and FDA legal issues so they can launch or continue to scale, their health and wellness product or service.

Our law firm represents so many companies and individuals putting out health coaching products and service.  It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry, and it continues to grow.

Let me tell you how I came to be a lawyer who counsels clients about health coaching, because it’s a little bit unusual.  A long time ago, in a galaxy not too far away—actually, the Milky Way—I worked as a Wall Street lawyer.  One day, I left my job, and I held two different business cards on my hand.  The one in my left hand said: Michael H. Cohen, Attorney-at-Law, that’s going to open up my practice.  The one in my right hand said, Michael H. Cohen, Clinical Hypnotherapist.  I went back and forth between the two, I couldn’t decide. So I stood in the medium strip of Park Avenue, in New York City—I figured that was as close to God as I would get in New York City, I didn’t have the time or money to get to the Himalayas, and, I figured I’d get noticed right there, between the opposing lanes of traffic—so I asked, which one of these cards should I be using for the balance of my professional career.

I didn’t exactly get a message from the sky, but the left part of my brain said to me, you need to research the law to find out whether you can call yourself a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, and practice, as someone who is licensed not as a healthcare provider but as a lawyer.  And so began my journey of thinking, teaching, and writing around the issues surrounding licensed vs unlicensed practice of the healing arts—and that includes the way the law licenses the practice of medicine, the practice of psychology, and even therapeutic approaches like hypnotherapy and the giving of nutritional advice.

Today, we call a lot of this territory “health coaching.”  My first project as a law school professor, with the aid of two very talented research assistants, was to research the laws of all the states on how they defined “the practice of medicine” because I wanted to get my arms around this problem.

I published my first law review piece, entitled, “A Fixed Star in Health Care Reform: The Emerging Paradigm of Holistic Healing”.  Arizona State Law Journal 1995 Spring; 27(1): 79-172.  I was 30-something years old.

In this piece, I wrote about how the law defines the healing arts—in particular, practices we now call “health coaching,” simply because coaching is best analogy, and we’re trying to steer clear of diagnostic and therapeutic labels; and I wrote about how practitioners like health coaches do or do not fall within the parameters of the statutes and regulations.

The first sentence of the article read: “The debate over health care reform has challenged pivotal assumptions about the way Americans care for themselves and their families.”  I wrote these words decades before Obamacare brought healthcare reform to the forefront of American politics.  The healthcare reform I was talking about involved what we know today as health coaching.

Since that time, we’ve advised many companies large and small, with many different business models that have a health coaching component.  And practitioners, including medical doctors and nurses and chiropractors and others who would like to fit within the health coaching model, we help them.  Our advice is targeted, and often, life-changing for the individual and very impactful on the business model for a healthcare startup.

If you’re interested in an early read, you would probably benefit from having a Legal Strategy Session with a member of our Legal Team.

Thanks for watching. We have a deep history in health coaching, as you can see I’ve been added as an academic as well as a practitioner, and for that very reason we look forward to speaking with you soon.

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