We’ve all been there. You’re having a really productive one-on-one session with lots of talking and excitement and even a few a-ha moments. Your client is ready for change! But you’ve also got your eye on the clock, and you’re noticing that it’s getting awfully close to the end of the session.

Wrapping up your health coaching sessions isn’t always easy. And there are lots of reasons why. You might feel bad about ending on time if your client is in the middle of explaining a complicated issue. Or maybe they have a last-minute question right before their session is up. Or you don’t want to interrupt them. Or they’re making such great progress, why stop now?

It’s important to end your health coaching sessions properly every time you work with a client.

Not only does this set expectations, it puts boundaries in place that keep you from getting taken advantage of. It also keeps your sacred post-session routine from being impacted.

Say you’ve scheduled a 60-minute appointment with your client and the session runs long. The next time you meet, your client will probably expect that it’s alright to take up more of your time. Even if it’s okay with you, it’s not okay!

Keep your sessions to the designated time, even if your client arrives late. You have the right to end your sessions on time, regardless of when they arrived. Again, it’s about creating boundaries. You don’t want your clients to think they can come to every session late and still get a full 60 minutes with you.

Here are more best practices for ending your health coaching sessions the right way:

Keep Your Eye on the Clock

If you can’t see the time from where you’re sitting, set a quiet alarm to notify you when there’s 5-10 minutes left in the session. You can use an app to remind you or use the alarm on your phone. Just remember to choose a subtle ring tone or set it to vibrate.

Transition the Conversation

When it’s getting close to the end of the session, start transitioning your words and your body language by sitting back and saying something like, “We’ve covered so much today. I’m excited to hear about all the progress you’re making.” This shift in tone signals to the client that the session is beginning to wind down. If your client continues to engage in conversation, add, “this is great point to bring up in our next session. I’m going to write it down so we both remember.”

Recognize Their Hard Work

Changing your habits so you can have the life you want isn’t easy for anyone. So, wrap up your sessions by telling your clients how courageous they are for making their health a priority. Whether they’re changing their habits around diet, movement, sleep, or stress, take this time to acknowledge their hard work. And make sure they’re feeling good about continuing their efforts.

Ask Smart End-of-Session Questions

You might have seen some of the important end-of-session questions to ask in this post, but as you’re wrapping things up, you might also ask:

  • What was the most valuable part of today’s session for you?
  • What were your major insights?
  • What can you put into action from this session?
  • What’s your homework assignment for this week?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how are you feeling about moving forward with these changes?
  • What needs to happen to improve that number?

Remember, as much as we want to tell our clients what to do, their own answers will be the ones that resonate with them the most. That means you should be asking the questions and letting them give you the answers. Also, have your clients write down their action items or homework in their phone, on paper, or wherever they’ll be sure to see them.

Address Last-Minute Questions (Later On)

But what if your client has a question right as the session is ending? That’s your call. If it’s a really quick one and can be addressed without impacting your post-session routine or interfering with your next client’s session, answer it. If it’s more complicated and requires a more in-depth response, say something similar to the response above, like, “I’m going to write this down so we can address it in our next session.” Or, if regular email or phone calls are part of the health coaching package you offer, have them follow up with their question there.

Schedule a Follow-Up Session

Some health coaches have an online scheduler so their clients can schedule their own appointments (some of our favorites are Acuity and Calendly), but don’t assume that they will. People get busy, and things like health coaching sessions tend to fall through the cracks when it comes to priorities. Use this time to make sure your client is on your calendar for another session. And while you’re at it, make sure they’re all paid up, too.

Let’s Review…

Wrapping up your health coaching sessions can be tricky to navigate. But it doesn’t have to be. You want your client to leave their session feeling inspired, acknowledged, and clear about their next steps—without sacrificing extra time or energy on your end. Set the right expectations and boundaries by structuring the last 5-10 minutes of every session using these tips:

  • Keep your eye on the clock
  • Transition the conversation
  • Recognize their hard work
  • Ask smart end-of-session questions
  • Address last minute questions (later on)
  • Schedule a follow-up session

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