Community as Medicine™ elevates traditional health coaching

Our coaching model evolved over years through our work in clinical and community settings with diverse populations. The experiential approach deepens the value of individual coaching and shines in a group coaching setting where participants connect with each other, in addition to the support they receive from their coach.

The cost of private therapists, personal trainers, and other wellness professionals means that those with less privilege or resources are often left entirely without support. The OSW model seeks to create accessibility, seamless integration between clinical providers and community-based services, and sustainable transformation of health and wellbeing for populations most in need.

Dancing on the dance floor

Our coaching groups create a supportive environment for health behavior changes

The Design Principles underlying Community as Medicine

As we partnered with a wide variety of clinical groups (mostly Federally Qualified Health Centers), housing groups (mostly low income housing), and corporate groups, we learned how to adapt the Community as Medicine model to different populations.

However, there are a few major values or design principles that remain constant and inform all of our work: 


Community as Medicine groups include individuals who may be struggling with a variety of physical, mental, or social health challenges.


Community as Medicine groups deliver a universal prescription that includes Move, Nourish, Connect and Be (physical activity, healthy eating, social connection, and stress reduction/rest). 


Learning and change happen by actually doing the practices that underlie human wellbeing together, rather than just talking about them. 


Programs are always engaging and fun; they foster human connection and belonging via trauma-informed and culturally humble group coaching and facilitation.


The design of Community as Medicine groups and the infrastructure surrounding them is done with equity in mind, with an eye towards broadening access to health coaching. Rather than prescribing any particular diet, exercise regimen, or meditation technique, the Community as Medicine™ model supports flexible, culturally-relevant and accessible changes based on universal principles of health. 

Our program is designed to support the holistic and long-term wellbeing of our participants.

Group Size
Group size varies from approximately 12-26 participants. The number of staff changes in proportion to the number of participants.
Program Length
Groups run for 60-120mins
The most common "dose" is 12 weeks. Other options include 8 weeks and 16 weeks. Some partners offer "refills," and our ongoing OSWx program for graduates provides lifelong support.
In-Person CAM Groups happen in clinical spaces (ie, doctors' offices, hospitals), community spaces, and housing spaces. Virtual CAM groups are hosted via zoom and are HIPAA-compliant.
Our patient population includes those who are Black, African American, Latinx, Native American, Pacific Islander, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Non-Binary (LGBTQ+). We bring together adults of all ages.
Group coaching is currently offered in Spanish and English, and Open Source Wellness can deliver individual health coaching in other languages. Our training partners are encouraged to deliver programming in the preferred language of their population!

CAM groups everywhere follow a sequence of powerful experiences

CAM groups are extremely flexible, allowing for customization to local culture, population demographics, and individual participant needs.  However, each weekly group follows a shared arc of activities: 


We start with a warm welcome, icebreaker, and a reminder of group agreements. The goal is that everyone feels seen, heard, included, and safe, and that we've started to generate both vitality and vulnerability.


A group fitness leader guides the group through fun, playful physical activity that gets everyone laughing, sweating, and connecting. We prioritize accessibility while practicing Strength, Balance, Flexibility, and Cardiovascular fitness.


Everyone quiets down for a few moments of intentional stress reduction. This might look like mindfulness practice, gratitude practice, progressive muscle relaxation, or other ways of cultivating rest and relaxation.


A coach leads the group in an interactive learning activity on a health/wellness topic of the day. This often includes discussion, skills practice, and/or crowdsourcing solutions to common challenges.


The large group breaks up into small groups, where one coach and ~6 participants spend ~30 minutes in trauma-informed small group coaching. This is when participants share most deeply with each other, and work on the goals that matter most to them.


At the end, we reconvene the large group to share gratitudes, celebrate small victories, and make commitments for the week to come.

Our educational curriculum is comprehensive and holistic.   

Here are a few samples from our library of interactive experiential "Spark" lessons

The Wellness Wheel

Participants review their strengths and challenges across multiple dimensions of wellbeing. In a shame-free environment, we celebrate what works, and set SMART goals to build new habits.  

Food and Feelings

Participants explore the relationship between emotions and  eating choices - along with the ways that different foods make them feel.

Mindfulness in Daily Life

Participants experience three different stress-reduction practices, choose the approach that works best for them, and experiment with a simple daily routine.

Understanding Food Labels

Coaches demystify ingredient lists, macronutrients, and navigating the grocery store with ease (without breaking the budget!) Special attention is paid to culturally-relevant foods for each participant.

Habit Change

Participants learn new approaches to building healthy habits, and workshop changing a habit of their own. Small coaching groups connect via text over the week to provide support and accountability.

Interpersonal Boundaries

Participants explore the challenges of human relating! Coaches and peers share experiences of self-care and community-care, and participants try on new approaches to connection.
Seated stretching with exercise bands

Commonly Asked Questions

What populations does CAM support?

We work with all kinds of groups, including healthcare professionals, corporate employee groups, and students.

Our Federally Qualified Health center patient populations are over 85% people of color, over 1/3 primarily speaking a language other than English, 89% falling below the federal poverty line, 2/3 on Medicaid, and 15% uninsured.

Our population includes those who are Black, African American, Latinx, Native American, Pacific Islander, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Non-Binary (LGBTQ+), and those who were formerly incarcerated, struggle with low digital access or literacy, are survivors of trauma and violence, are experiencing housing insecurity/unsheltered/homeless, and are undocumented.

What happens if a participant can't make a group meeting?

Open Source Wellness also offers individual health coaching via phone or videoconference for patients unable to attend the Group Medical Visits. Each patient is eligible for four individual health coaching sessions.