Sandra Scheinbaum, PhD is the founder and CEO of Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. As a leader in the field of integrative psychiatry, she joins James to speak about the advantages of leveraging a group coaching model for mental health services.

For many reasons—from the current shortage of licensed clinical psychologists to improved patient compliance—mental health group coaching offers compelling advantages. Patients often feel more comfortable being honest and open with coaches they can relate to more as peers. Because traditional therapy still carries a cultural stigma, shame is a common barrier that prevents people from seeking support. Coaches, on the other hand, can be more approachable and provide a friendly dynamic that builds trust with patients.

There is also a strong economic rationale behind practitioners adopting a coaching model: demand for mental health care is increasing, while the supply of licensed therapists is limited. Dr. Scheinbaum shares ample evidence of the benefits group coaching offers both patients and mental health practitioners. We also encourage more people who are interested in supporting their community to either employ coaches or consider becoming a coach via the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy.

Listen to the full episode to learn more about:

  • The data on the effectiveness of health coaching
  • Conditions that often co-occur with mental health challenges
  • The downsides to patients over-identifying with mental health diagnoses
  • Issues with and opportunities for billing coaching sessions to insurance
  • And much more!

The Benefits of Mental Health Group Coaching | Ep 291

Sandra Scheinbaum: And one of the best things for people who is experiencing too much sadness or is maybe stuck in their head and thinks that they’re all alone and that their issues aren’t solvable. We get them in a group with other people now they know they’re not alone. They can talk with others who are experiencing something similar and they’re saying, “Oh, if he can feel better, I can do it too.” And they have that community support.

And when I was a psychologist, I led all kinds of groups, and that’s what we trained our coaches to do, to be those facilitators. And that is a great way to help people with anxiety, depression….

James Maskell: Welcome to the Evolution of Medicine podcast, the place health professionals come to hear from innovators and agitators leading the charge. We cover the latest clinical breakthroughs in health technology, as well as practical tools to help you transform your practice and the health of your community. This podcast is brought to you by the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center, who provide a range of options to help you deliver successful, effective, functional, and integrative medicine. To find out more and to get started, go to That’s

Hello and welcome to the podcast. This week, we feature Dr. Sandy Scheinbaum. She is the founder of Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. I’ve known Sandy for a number of years. Her and Elise do an amazing job with her graduates. We wanted to connect a little bit about this massive surge in demand for mental health services and how coaching can fill that gap. And so, we talked about the massive increase, the fourfold demand in mental health services. We talked about new studies and data showing the equivalence of coaching and therapy for mental health issues, and she gets a little bit more specific on the science on that. We talk about the demand and supply for coaches and therapists, and we also talked about just the different roles that the coaches are playing in clinics. I mean, one thing to think about, in your clinic, who knows if your patients stop taking their supplements or stop doing the diet or stop taking their drugs? Who knows?

And I would say that one of the things that we’re seeing is a definite best practice is having someone in a role where they can be more of a peer for a patient, so they can be honest with them about how their treatment plan is going. As you get into this podcast, please think about that. Go to We are supporting Functional Medicine Coaching Academy, a great place to get trained as a health coach in 2023. If you have your staff, it could be a really powerful upgrade for someone who’s been on your front desk or it could be a new person to bring into the clinic. And if you want to learn more about how to do it inside the payer system, check out our other sponsor, HealCommunity, who we mentioned a couple times during the show. Thanks so much and enjoy.

So, a warm welcome back to the podcast Sandy Scheinbaum. Welcome, Sandy.

Sandra Scheinbaum: Oh, thank you, James. I’m so happy to be here and talk with you.

James Maskell: Well look, I wanted to round out this Year of Growth that we’ve had. Obviously, there’s been one significant growth, which is the growth and need of mental health services. And as I’ve been thinking about what to do about that and how our community can work most effectively to be a solution for that problem, I saw an article on LinkedIn that I think maybe you posted, and I thought you’d be the perfect person to speak about it because of your mental health background and then also now being in the coaching world.

And essentially what the article was saying was that coaching was as effective as therapy for mental health. And I guess let’s start there. Obviously, when you speak to someone who’s one or the other, I don’t give their opinion quite as much weight. But when you speak to someone who’s been involved in both, I’m really interested to hear your own thoughts on it.

Sandra Scheinbaum: Yes. Well, thank you for referring to that article, which was referencing a study. The study was conducted by Modern Health, and the main point was that, in this study, even one session of health coaching led to improvements. And these were people who were diagnosed with depression, and they were feeling better—not completely cured because we don’t talk about that in mental health. But they were feeling better. And on measures of wellbeing, they were showing improvements. And this research is really similar to what we are finding.

So, we are doing our own research. We’ve been doing this for some time. We started with a small pilot. We found similar improvements in wellbeing. We also found that the trials that we are doing with practitioners who are dealing with things like burnout, we’re seeing improvements in wellbeing.

So, we do have a problem with mental health. Before the pandemic, 10% of people on self-report measures said that they were experiencing depression or anxiety. Now it’s up to 40. And the reason that it is so significant that health coaches play a huge role is because they are trained—at least in our program—we train them on the fundamental theories that are so connected with mental-emotional wellbeing. And that’s things like self-determination, acceptance and commitment theory, cognitive behavior therapy, positive psychology teachings.

So, coaches are remarkably effective. And it used to be thought that you had to have psychotherapy or you had to be seen by a mental health counselor. And many people still believe this. And I want to be clear at the beginning of this conversation, what I’m not saying is that it’s an either/or, that health coaches do not take the place of licensed therapists, licensed mental health counselors. It is both. They can be used, the coach, in a supportive role, the coach, in working with those people, who—what we would say—are subclinical or they have not reached the point where they need acute care.

And what I realized is because I was a psychologist for close to 40 years, and I specialized in mind-body medicine, helping people with positive psychology. When I was seeing somebody and it didn’t happen frequently because of the nature of my practice, but when somebody was paranoid schizophrenic, when they were actively suicidal, then I knew that I was not the person to treat them. It’s just like a functional medicine doctor would not be the person to see if you are in the middle of having a heart attack. You’d go to the emergency room and get that acute care.

So, people who have severe conditions like they are having a severe manic episode when they are bipolar and they’re doing things that are in need of acute care intervention, psychiatric intervention. So, I want to be clear that this is not the population we are referring to. We are referring to people with anxiety, with depression who also may have or can be caught early in a more preventative so that stage so that they don’t go on to having severe depression or anxiety.

James Maskell: I think they could definitely be caught early. And one of the places perhaps they can be caught early is in other doctor’s offices because typically those kinds of diagnoses are going along with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, COPD, and the digestive disorders, the kind of things that you would see in a functional medicine practice. Right?

Sandra Scheinbaum: Absolutely. And you and I know from the functional medicine principles that—if somebody is experiencing those conditions you just mentioned—that it’s likely the root cause as an inflammatory response, for example, is also the cause of their depression, for example. So, treating it with a root-cause medicine approach would be very, very appropriate.

And the other thing that a health coach could do, especially one trained in functional medicine principles, going to look at those modifiable lifestyle factors and not just say, “Okay, you have depression, you have anxiety, and now I’m going to refer you to a mental health counselor or a psychologist for psychotherapy. We need to address… We need to look at the quality of your sleep, your exercise in movement. What are you eating?”

We know that certain foods are linked to more mood disorders, a heavy, ultra-processed diet full of sugar, for example. So, the coach is going to help people realize that there are many contributing factors, and often one change can lead to a cascade of responses that is going to significantly lessen their depression. Catch it early, like take a walk, clear your head. That is one of the significant antidepressants. Exercise: there’s many, many studies showing it’s as effective if not more effective than antidepressant medications.

James Maskell: So, I guess when we talk about the efficacy of coaching, we’re not just talking about the time spent with the coach. We’re talking about what the coach helps the person to do and the efficacy of those things.

Sandra Scheinbaum: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean health takes place at the dinner table, on the walking path. And I also want to add that health takes place in groups, as you certainly are a big proponent of with your group programs. And one of the best things for people who is experiencing too much sadness or is maybe stuck in their head and thinks that they’re all alone and that their issues aren’t solvable. We get them in a group with other people now they know they’re not alone. They can talk with others who are experiencing something similar and they’re saying, “Oh, if he can feel better, I can do it too.” And they have that community support.

And when I was a psychologist, I led all kinds of groups, and that’s what we trained our coaches to do, to be those facilitators. And that is a great way to help people with anxiety, depression. They can also use mind-body medicine strategies. That was something that I saw firsthand and so, so many people I worked with when I was a psychologist. Some breathing techniques, some awareness of even things like posture, how they’re bracing and tensing their muscles, and to help them go through some processes where they are aware of their breath, aware of where they’re holding the tension.

And that can really go far to help them clear their head. Now they’re in a more relaxed parasympathetic response, so it’s easier to think of solutions. So, now they may be able to problem solve. And maybe that problem that they thought was there’s no way out of—and they were so anxious and upset and depressed—well, maybe it’s all solvable now after they’ve entered that parasympathetic state.

James Maskell: Absolutely. And I guess the piece that I want to bring into it as well is that, I mean, I know it’s been very simple for doctors to say, “Well you should go and see a mental health professional.” But, like, the practicalities of that today is that the demand and supply is such that getting in to see a mental health professional is harder than ever. Many reasons, right? Some have quit. You mentioned the fourfold increase in demand. But also with the growth of all of these different companies out there that are doing sort of therapy on demand, I think there’s more choices for therapists on how they want to work.

And so, I guess one of the things that I wanted to just ask you about is comparing, I guess, the demand and supply for therapy to the demand and supply for coaching because, actually, I just saw you guys put out an email recently saying, “Here’s a list of 50 companies that are all hiring health coaches.” And I think we’ve seen some that have previously hired a ton, let some go. Probably more to do with their own business model or business plan than anything to do with coaching.

But I also see that there is an increase in the places that coaching is being used. And I think for many practitioners, how much better to be able to refer in to someone in your practice who knows the case, who knows the doctor working on it, rather than just sending you out for mental health referral, and good luck.

Sandra Scheinbaum: That’s such a good point. And there’s a critical shortage of licensed mental health professionals. We don’t have enough. And there’s a hard barrier to entry. So, I got my PhD in psychology back in the early eighties. So, today if I were to go to school and say I want to get a PhD and to be a licensed clinical psychologist, you need a PhD. That’s a long time that we’re talking about, four years, including a dissertation. Many people stumble.
But I know people who are my fellow colleagues, and I went to school with them. But they were 10 years trying to write a dissertation because there’s so many stumbling blocks along the way as you’re engaging in this original research project with your committee. So, it is expensive, and you may have to take out student loans. It may not fit if you are a working adult, going back to school. It’s hard. It’s expensive, time consuming. And again, barriers to entry. So, that’s an obstacle.

Whereas health coaching, so functional medicine coaching, it’s a year program, and you emerge with a certificate. And, most significantly, you don’t have to take the graduate record exam, or you don’t have to have your transcripts from college as you’re applying to a doctoral program. Anybody, if they have a calling to help others, they can become a coach. And so, that’s very, very significant. And what it means is that we have some great coaches who have graduated. They are ones… Often, they’ve experienced… They may have gone through anxiety or depression and know what it’s like. And so, they are ideally suited.

But also, for diversity: We are attracting people who might not be able to afford or have the resources or the right academic background to go into a degree program to be a licensed health professional. They can apply because you don’t have to have a background in healthcare. You don’t have to have a bachelor’s degree. If you want to be board certified, they require an associate’s degree. But that’s a lot lower to entry criteria than the degree programs for mental health. So, I have heard the waiting list for seeing somebody, especially if you are in a rural area, can be up to a year. And then that person might not be on your insurance plan and the rates that are charged tend to be much higher, and so many, many obstacles.

And that’s why the ideal is groups led by health coaches. And then you have a team of resources: You have your colleagues, you have psychologists and you specialize. So, when I was a psychologist, I had, at the time, my Rolodex. Okay, somebody is coming to see me, but they’re really more appropriate for couples’ therapy. That’s not my specialty. So, I would refer someone. Or someone is a child and family therapist. So, you can refer people.

And then, of course, the psychiatric intervention because, as I said, sometimes you may have people who are in that acute clinical phase, and they definitely need psychiatric intervention. But something that I didn’t really emphasize was that when you are referred to a therapist and you are told you need therapy, there is a stigma. And even though we think in this today, that’s long gone. But for many people, it exists. And particularly if they feel like somebody at work, their HR department, is telling them that they need therapy. Or I’ve talked to doctors, and they’re not going to admit to being depressed because they feel like if they admit that it may jeopardize their standing on a medical staff, for example, or their license is in jeopardy.

So, with a health coach, there is much greater tendency to feel like, “Oh, it’s normalized.” I want to point out one more thing, and that is there was a recent survey of college kids. And this was a company that was going into campuses, and they’re offering both. They’re offering therapy with a counselor, and they’re also offering health coaching. And the students were preferring health coaching because that was one of the reasons that the idea is that, “oh, I don’t want to start with a shrink,” for example. The coach was a model that they were much more comfortable with.

James Maskell: Well, it was a lot to unpack there, and I want to reflect on a few things. So one is, this year, we’ve had a chance to actually deploy some health-coach-led groups into some interesting places. And I would say that one of the most interesting places was into a psychiatric clinic with real acute needs. And that was in Utah. So, very clinically sick patients, treatment resistant depression, et cetera. And delivering these virtual coaching groups as an extension of an existing clinical care team with therapists and psychologists and psychiatrists was really powerful because it sort of had… The care was being owned by the entity that had the right providers, but the care team was being sort of extended by this other layer of care. So, that was really exciting because that seemed like it didn’t have to be either/or. There was definitely a synergy there, and you could use the resources as needed.

The other thing I want to say is just how important it is that the coaching world isn’t over medical-ified. You know what I mean? I don’t even know if that’s a word. Medified, not medicated, but medified in the way that, ultimately, what we’ve seen in these groups is that it’s the nature of the coach, which is sort of like this link position between medicine and the patient, that allows patients, oftentimes, to open up in a way that they may not in front of a doctor because of the perceived power differential of medical providers.

And so, we’ve had doctors that have sat in in groups where it’s been run by a coach and seen patients open up in new ways because they feel finally safe to do so because there are other people who are opening up in those ways. And when you mention the shortness of the training of the coach, I want to reflect on how powerful I’ve seen that that is because it still maintains a sort of a peer-like feel that allows people to feel safe enough to really open up, which is really the first step towards healing a mental health issue, in my estimation.

Sandra Scheinbaum: Yes, absolutely. And they feel more comfortable. There’s data showing, for example, that people are reluctant to fully disclose to experts. So, we know that when coaches are part of primary care practices, they will disclose to the coach. And in some of these practices, the coaches are referred to as the friends of the patients, the concierge, the guides, the key communicators. So, they will disclose, “Oh, they went off the supplements,” or “They’re not complying with the medication.” And they are very honest with the coach, whereas they’re not because they’re often ashamed. They’re afraid of being judged.

So, the other point that I think… So, I again want to be clear that coaches, they’re not licensed providers, and they do not provide a diagnosis or a treatment plan. So, if somebody is talking with a coach, the coach is not going to write in the chart, “depression.” They’re not going to have that code to diagnose somebody as depressed, bipolar, anxiety disorder. And what I have seen happen when I was practicing is that people will take this label and it is now a sign that they wear, and they often have been told, “You have a clinical imbalance. This is a disease.” And so they are seeing themselves, I’m a depressed person. I’m an anxious person. The diagnosis is front and center and becomes key to their identity.

And it’s often very hard then to get better because they’re not focusing on what’s good. They’re not seeing themselves, the parts where they’re functioning normally. They are hyper focused on the depression, the anxiety, whatever that diagnosis is, “Oh, I’m bipolar.” And that is again, it’s their front and center, and it shapes their behavior and their emotions. When you clear that and focus on the commonality but also focus on their strengths—we do that in positive psychology—then they have hope, and they’re also starting to normalize their feelings. And when they do that, then they’re not catastrophizing, and they’re not as likely to then get up to a level that is more serious.

But I love that group that you were describing because that is exactly right. It is not either/or. And when we train our coaches, we teach them how to refer, when to refer. When you are with somebody, what, for example, if somebody is voicing suicidal ideation. Well, what are the steps to take? How do you make a referral? How do you ensure that the person’s followed up? And then you don’t have to stop seeing them. You don’t have to fear or be afraid that you are in over your head here because coaches, what do they do? They’re listeners. They’re trained to listen, to accept someone where they’re at, and just sitting and listening to someone, if they said nothing in the session, that alone, just the sense that they’re there with them, that person feels heard and understood, now that’s healing.

James Maskell: Yeah. Wow, yeah, I really see that. So, I guess one of the things that I wanted to share as well is that something that I’ve realized this year is that all of integrative, functional, lifestyle medicine is all built on this foundation of the idea that the patient will do something new. And, I guess, one of the things that I’ve come to realize is that if you don’t have that person—and I love the way you said the friend or the guide, even changing the name, the care coordinator, someone who the person will be honest with.

Because I just see, when I was really honest with myself about the clinics that I helped and supported over, let’s say, a decade before I started working on this group project, I just felt like many times patients were coming in, getting an incredible workup, and then either starting and losing steam because it was really over complicated, or just that it was too intimidating to start off, or there was just such a big gap between where they were now and what they were being expected to do by the provider that like it just never happened. And I wonder… Now that I’ve seen clinics that have that kind of role that you’re talking about and even been providing that sort of role here with these groups, I just recognize that this is absolutely crucial to the care team of the future.

Sandra Scheinbaum: That is so well said. And the coach is the key communicator. They are experts in rapport building. They’re experts in listening. And when you feel heard, when you feel like you have someone on your side, especially if you are a patient in a very large busy practice, one of those where they might have 30 providers and a huge team. And often getting through communicating your needs or even things like you get a bill and you don’t understand what it’s for or think you’ve been overcharged.

So, Dr. Cheng Ruan talks about this a lot that the coach in a practice, it works both ways. They are advocates for the patient. They are also communicators the other way. So, they can help people understand. They can educate people: Why did the doctor prescribe this? Why was this charge made? And they do it in a way because of their training, because they are health coaches, because it is totally a client centered approach that they are trained on.

They’re not going to give that patient the same response that the office manager might or the billing person where it might be an unintentionally a curt response, and they don’t feel heard, and they don’t feel satisfied. And then they might give a negative Yelp review, and Cheng talks about that’s a great reason to have a coach because they’re going to help with that. You’re going to help people have a very favorable outlook about the practice. And there’s some studies that have shown that, that when you have a coach in your practice, you are more likely to get referrals. They’re going to refer their friends, their relatives, because they’ll feel much more satisfied with the care that they received. Why? Because they feel listened to, heard, understood.

James Maskell: Yeah. Well look, I want to look at a little bit to the future now because, obviously, with this being a Year of Growth and there’s been a huge growth in the number of companies that are looking for coaches and the use of coaching. I’m excited about that. But I also know that one of the common questions has always been, “Well, how do I pay for the coach?” And so I think there’s starting to be some models. Obviously, in cash, it’s just you have to work out a way to charge, and you can add a cost in or you can have it be part of your package. And we’ve talked about that for years. But one of the things that’s getting me quite excited is, obviously, with your community, we found out a way to have coaching be paid for on insurance one way or another.

And that’s by doing sort of a roundabout by sort of monetizing the groups through provider visits and then shunting some of that money to the coaches for the coaching work, which is really what’s moving the needle. But my understanding is that, coming soon, there could be codes that are dedicated for coaching. And I understand… As I understand it now, there are codes today that are for coaching, they’re just not paid. But, from my inside sources, and maybe you have better sources than I do, that maybe 2023 or possibly 2024 could see a significant change in how coaching is valued by the payer system.

Sandra Scheinbaum: So, there’s significant advancements. One of the most significant happened, I believe it was April of either 2020 or 2021. The coaching community, the coaching profession, is now a taxonomy coach. That’s very important because that means that you have a special number. It identifies the coaching, health coaching, as a profession and that you can put that on a claim. Now the CPT, that’s the procedural codes that are used. If you’re going to submit a claim, what procedure? What happened? And health coaching is now having a series of codes that are both individual and group codes that are transitional.

What does that mean? It means that they’ve not made that transition. They’ve not been bumped up to category one. They’re category three meaning that they are watching. So, the bodies that are looking at this, they’re tracking data and seeing how many people are actually using these claims and when there are significant numbers. So, it’s basically… Think of it as like it’s trending. Coaching is trending. They’re looking at it and seeing if it’s popular enough, we’ll bump it up, and we’ll bump it up to category one. And yes, it’s looking very promising.

And this is thanks to the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching. So, they’re really the ones making coaching reputable. Before the board had those standards, anybody could start a coaching school and have a weekend course and anyone could hang up, “Oh, I’m a health coach.” But there were no standards. So, now like, we are an approved school, and our graduates that then can sit for their exam. That’s the gold standard. They’re National Board Certified Health and Wellness coaches. And when we do have the code category one, meaning that reimbursement will be possible, you will need to be board certified in order to use those codes.

What will this mean? Well, we know in the insurance world, just having the code doesn’t mean that you’ll be reimbursed. Each payer has different procedures and rules. Medicare is different. But we know, especially Medicare, they want health coaching. They are encouraging this. Coaches can be involved in the yearly wellness visits. They can also be involved as data managers for remote monitoring. If you have patients and they’re wearing continuous glucose monitors, I love mine, and any data that is being collected on these home monitoring devices, the coach can be monitoring as the communicator both to the patient and the practice.

That’s another way that coaching, if you’re a practice, you can consider health coaching for reimbursement. We’ve also seen corporations know that we’ve got quiet quitting now, which used to be called presenteeism. We know that when health coaches are engaged, people feel better. They feel like the company cares about them, and they’re also more committed in terms of better work, finding meaning and purpose in their work.

James Maskell: Yeah. Well, I want to give a shout out, Sandy, because, obviously, when we started HealCommunity, we started hiring FMCA coaches. And part of what I wanted to share today is, if you are interested in health coaching or hiring a coach, you can go to Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. If you want to follow the link at, you can find out about if you want to go through the coaching program. But I would just say, we have hired almost exclusively from your school so far.

And I would say the talent that we’ve managed to get into our groups has been amazing. Our head coach, Elizabeth, who came through that program, came to us also with an MPH and not only runs the coaching but also the data and is a wiz, such a wiz. And we’re so grateful for her. We put her in some pretty sticky situations, like that mental health clinic, and she just flew through it, was totally comfortable, and now is building a great sort of team of coaches around her and building great standards.

And I would say one of the things that’s been exciting for this year is it’s sort of set us up for, I think, something really transformational. You mentioned Dr. Ruan earlier, but I just want to share a quick story about that. Dr. Ruan and I have been friends for years, and he was the one that really first sort of clued me into the fact that one, virtual coaching really worked, virtual group coaching. And two, that most clinics would never be able to really execute it because it’s tricky to do it on insurance and get all the pieces together. And he was like, “Look, if you could do it for them, there’d be a great opportunity there.” And that’s what HealCommunity became.

So, earlier… He and I have been going back and forth, and I’ve been sharing with him some of the things that we’ve been up to, things that we’ve been learning, just sharing best practices. So, earlier this year in the middle of the summer, the state of Texas has a problem and the state of Texas has a problem that if you have Medicare or Medicaid and you just happen to live in one of the rural states, there’s no doctors. Right? There’s no doctors. The ratio can be over a hundred thousand patients to one doctor. And so, it’s impossible to get an appointment. So, the state of Texas went to Memorial Herman ACO, which is what Cheng’s part of, and basically looked at the matrix. Who gets the best outcomes at the lowest cost? Let’s take a look. And guess what? Cheng is in the mix there.

Why? Because he’s doing groups, because he’s using coaches, all the reasons that we’ve just been speaking about. And the costs are lower. So, they come to Cheng, and they say, “Hey, we have all these people, do you have any ideas of how we could go about solving this problem?” And so, he called me, and he said, “Hey, we’ve got this opportunity. It’s going to be a kind of heavy lift for me to onboard these patients from physician city databases because I’m going to have to onboard them into my EHR. I’m going to have to scale the provider side of it because there’s a provider side on our side, so I’m going to have to hire and train these providers and have them working in the whole system. And we’re going to have to bill a lot of Medicare and Medicaid because there’s a lot of people out there.” Most clinics in functional medicine are dealing with 10 at a time or, at very most, a hundred patients at a time.

And this was like 55,000 patients. So, in that moment, he was like, “Look, I’ve got to do this. What I need is someone who can take care of… Can you run the groups?” And I was like, “Yeah, definitely, we can.” So, what I’m excited to share is that we’re off and running on that contract, and it’s really exciting, and people and the outcomes have been great. Our coaches have been great. We’re definitely going to be hiring more coaches in 2023 as this continues to ramp up. But, I guess, I just wanted to share that like we wouldn’t have been able to get where we are without the coaches that you’ve given us and that we’ve hired from you. And also, that like, I don’t think what we’re even talking about would’ve been possible a couple years ago.

And that’s why just the progress that everyone’s making to start small and to learn as you go and to build systems that scale is now opening up this amazing opportunity to have virtual coaching groups be like the first line therapy for people who have never experienced functional medicine, who have never experienced lifestyle medicine, only have Medicare and Medicaid and live in the state of Texas. And to me, it’s pretty exciting because I feel like it’s everything that we’ve just been talking about for the last half an hour in actualization. And the truth is this problem that the state of Texas is facing is the same in every state. Every state has lost doctors, rural doctors. Every state has a physician shortage. So, I’m excited about the future, and I’m excited about a coach-first operating system of medicine.

I’ve been thinking about this for eight years since we started the Functional Forum, and I was working with Gabe who was a coach in a functional medicine office in 2007. And so, I guess I just wanted to say thank you for what you’ve done to create this network of coaches that are well-suited for this work. And I’m excited for what 2023 will hold as we sort of march forward to this together.

Sandra Scheinbaum: I’m so excited to partner with you, to train the health coaches. We need you to be health coaches. We need… Someone once said, “We need a hundred thousand health coaches.” I heard that a few weeks ago, to meet the demand, the loss of doctors, the loss of nurses. We’re rebuilding a better healthcare system and with a partnership with HealCommunity, Texas first and now the rest of the world, for virtual group coaching with FMCA coaches.

James Maskell: Absolutely. And funny you say rest of the world because we have our first groups now in the NHS kicking off in January. And then, actually, I was just in Mexico, and I met with a hospital there, and we’re going to start doing some groups there. In fact, the coach that I met came through your training, and she’s actually the wife of the CEO of the hospital. So, she’s been trying forever. I went over there for a conference. They brought me in. I basically said everything that she’s been saying for years, and now, I think they’re ready to do it. So, I’m excited to see. Like you said, it’s a worldwide phenomenon because it’s a worldwide problem. And yeah, just super grateful for where we are and where we’re going. And thank you so much.

So, I’ve been here with Sandy Scheinbaum. She is the founder of Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. If you want to find out more, go to We’ll have all the notes in the show notes, all the links. And get involved in coaching whether you want to be a coach, whether you want to hire a coach, whether you want to refer to a coach or have a coach supporter in your clinic. It’s the time, and I think the world is opening up and getting ready for that. It’s about time to do that. So, thank you, Sandy.

Sandra Scheinbaum: Thank you.

James Maskell: Thanks for listening to the evolution of medicine podcast. Please share this with colleagues who need to hear it. Thanks so much to our sponsors, the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center. This podcast is really possible because of them. Please visit to find out more about their clinical tools like the group visit toolkit. That’s Thanks so much for listening and we’ll see you next time.


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