Cancer Coaching Certificate


Toronto is home to one of the top five cancer research institutes in the world, and Canada is among the world leaders in cancer survival.
(International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership)


The Health Leadership & Learning Network (HLLN) at York University in Canada offers a  Cancer Coach Certificate, which applies state-of-the-science evidence out of the world-renowned Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

This 55-hour program is developed for national and international health professionals who want to help clients effectively self-manage the impact of cancer and treatment, across phases in the cancer continuum. This training is also suitable as a model to implement a two-tier intervention using 'lay' or 'peer' coaches, supervised by a cancer coach.

Combine academic and leisure in one of the most livable and competitive cities in the world according to various international rankings.

Course details

  • Blended learning format (21 hrs online learning and 5 in-class days)      
  • Dates: Online: July 2020 AND In-class: August 10-14, 2020
  • Location: 1 Yonge Street, Suite Number (TBC), Toronto, Ontario, M5E 1W7 Canada
  • Price: $3955 CAD (all taxes included).                                                                                                                       The fees are per person and includes all materials, instruction, lunch and light refreshments. Price does not include travel, accommodation, parking fees or excursions fees
  • Pre-requisites:
    • Regulated health professionals
    • If you are not a regulated health professional but are supervised by a regulated health professional cancer coach, you can take the online portion of the course to offer lifestyle and wellness support. Please inquire for more information + 1 416.736.2100 ext 22170 or
  • Professional Certificate: At the end of the course, you will earn a certificate of completion, and a digital professional certificate and badges to prove and articulate your skills. Failure to attend the course dates and/or achieve the learning objectives as determined by the instructor can result in you not earning the certificate of completion and digital badges.
  • Accreditation:
    • This Continuing Education course is approved by NBHWC for  55-hour continuing education units (CEP # 100131)
  • Course Changes: We will make every effort to present the course as advertised but it may be necessary to change the date, location, speakers, or content with little or no notice. Fees, dates, locations, speakers, and content are subject to change.
  • Note: All courses are offered as non-degree and non-credit. York University does not issue a transcript for these courses
  • Before registering, please ensure you have read and understand our Course Policy and Disclaimer
If you are traveling from outside Toronto, please read the following information carefully.
You are expected to:

  • Make your own travel arrangements (flights, accommodation excursions, etc.) after your registration has been confirmed by the Health Leadership and Learning Network
  • Arrange activities for the weekends prior or after the course through our preferred tour company.
  • Review and confirm all cancellation and refund policies from your service suppliers (e.g. travel or excursion agencies, accommodation, etc).

For international applications:

  • Apply for visa (if required). Visa arrangements  are the learner’s responsibility. HLLN does not provide letter of support for visa applications. *Please note learners who may not need a visa,  may still need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), for more information please visit The Government of Canada's official website.
  • Get a Health Insurance to cover your entire stay in Canada


    • Please send the  form to us via email, fax or mail as mentioned in the registration form.
    • Pay a 25% deposit of the course fee. HLLN should receive this deposit in order to secure your seat . The final balance must be paid one month prior to the start date of the course
  • Once the Health Leadership &Learning Network (HLLN) team has received and confirmed your information, you will receive an email confirming your registration

Program Overview

Develop skills as a cancer self-management coach to effectively engage and motivate cancer populations to apply healthy behaviours for health recovery.

Cancer Coaching

How You Will Benefit:

  • Gain a person-centred model of cancer care that can be implemented and scaled at your organization or private pratice to improve quality of life and wellbeing of your clients, and potentially reduce the impact of co-morbidities
  • Practice and validate your new skills through live simulation practice with patient actors in small groups, and one-on-one skills assessment at the end of the program
  • Understand theories of behavioural change and health promotion and their application to self-management support.
  • Identify the impact and self-management support needs of cancer patients across phases in the cancer continuum and the role of a cancer self-management health coach.
  • Describe and apply the essential elements of a whole person cancer, health history, and self-management capability assessment for identification of collaborative problem-identification.
  • Construct person-centered, plans of care that address patient determined problems and goals/actions to address tasks of cancer self-management and p
  • roblem-specific and health behaviour support.
  • This Continuing Education course is approved by NBHWC for 55-hour continuing education units (CEP # 100131)

What You Will Learn

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Apply cancer health coaching skills to support patient self-management, and health behaviours to improve disease outcomes and health recovery.
  • Deliver motivational interviewing, decision-balance, 5As counselling processes, and comprehensive whole person assessment.
  • Collaborate with inter-professional health teams to support self-management for rapid, episodic cancer care.
  • Support self-management during acute treatment and for longer term survivorship.
  • Prepare self-management and health recovery plans based on client assessments.
  • Practice and validate your new skills through live simulation practice with patient actors in small groups, and in one-on-one skills assessment at the end of the program.


  • Regulated Health Professional

Contact us at if you are interested in taking the certificate but are unsure if you meet the pre-requisites.

Program Content

The Cancer Coaching Certificate comprises of  21 hrs of online learning, five (5) full-classroom days (this represents 55 hours of continuing education). This practical and applied program uses an interactive, competency-based curriculum, which includes experiential learning through live simulation session with patient actors.

health coaching


The online learning is presented in a modular format with interactive case-based learning in each module. Online module time for completion is three days or 21 hours.

Completion of Modules over 3 days (21 hours)

Module 1: Introduction to Cancer Self-Management Health Coaching Across the Cancer Trajectory.

In this module, you will learn about the health impact of diverse cancer and treatment modalities and problems that arise across phases of the cancer trajectory; and how social determinants of health, health and cancer literacy can impact on health outcomes. Supportive care and person-centered communication frameworks will be highlighted; and the complexities of cancer as both an acute and chronic illness with a focus on empowerment and enablement of patients as partners in disease self-management and for optimizing health recovery. The role and working definition of cancer self-management health coaching will be highlighted and its intersection with models of patient navigation.

Module 2: Tasks and Processes of Cancer Self-Management Across Phases in the Cancer Continuum

We focus on the tasks and processes of self-management and evidence of effectiveness of self-management and health behaviours on cancer symptoms, morbidity, quality of life and survival synthesized in systematic reviews and meta-analyses across phases in the cancer continuum. Models of stress and coping Unique issues of self-management and coaching patients dealing with advanced disease as a chronic illness and enabling family caregivers to support patient self-management will be highlighted. Coaching for self-management in virtual follow-up programs in cancer survivorship and in online professional and peer support formats.

Module 3: Behaviour Change and Working at the Interplay of Stress, Psychosocial Distress and Health in Cancer

Overview of normative emotions in cancer and at times of transition across the cancer trajectory, stress and distress, uncertainty, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness; and their effects on health. Techniques and skills for coaching to support patient coping behaviours and other strategies to enhance psychosocial health, i.e. collaborative problem-solving to manage emotions, recognition of psychosocial distress and navigating patient to specialist and other resources. Mobilizing and navigating peer support services online and groups.

Module 4: Coaching for Management of Cancer Symptoms and Long Term Effects

Supporting patients in symptom self-monitoring and tailoring behaviours across phases and for specific problems i.e. pain to optimize functioning in daily life. Learning theory and SMART goal setting for patients taking actions are examined and applied to cases. Coaching self-management re: adjusting medications and behaviours to reduce distress; and in the context of multi-symptom management and comorbid disease. Application of a cognitive-behavioural approach to support patients in symptom and side-effect management; adherence to lifelong oral management. Integration of self-management support in routine care delivery and remote symptom monitoring and management using digital technology and virtual clinics.

Module 5: Motivating Behaviour Change for Healthy Lifestyle Behaviours and Life Long Risks to Health

Evidence for healthy lifestyle behaviours (physical activity, exercise, healthy eating) on cancer recurrence and survival. Coaching for behaviour change and applying principles of health promotion based on stages of change and other relevant theories and models that motivate behaviours i.e. Fog small habits. Focus is on enabling the client to manage the impact of the condition on physical, emotional, occupational and social functioning; and motivating behaviour change through communications skills and using tools such as decisional-balance, goal setting, etc.


Day 1: am Introduction to Cancer Self-Management Health Coaching and Person-Centered, Holistic Cancer and Health History Assessment

We provide an overview of an assessment process based on a biopsychosocial and person-centered model of assessment considering sociocultural determinants of health, resources (social networks, coping, peer support), and the context of one’s cultural beliefs, health beliefs and preferences; cancer and health literacy level; socioeconomic barriers, life stages and other health and daily life challenges; and the integration of patient reported outcome data and measures in the assessment process. The assessment will also focus on the individual’s capability and capacity for cancer self-management and health management and use of this data for collaborative problem definition.

Day 1: pm Motivating Self-Management Behaviors to Address Acute Treatment Effects and Symptoms

An overview of the principles and structure of motivational interviewing and theoretical underpinnings of behaviour change and addressing cognitive perceptions that motivate behaviour. Motivating behaviour change, dealing with resistance, using tools such as problem-solving, decision-balance, etc. in behaviour change and other strategies to achieve mastery in management of symptoms and treatment side-effects considering differing learning capabilities i.e. older age. Models and theories of health behaviour change, stages of change and cognitive behavioural approaches for symptom and treatment side-effect management including Bandura’s Self-Efficacy Learning Theory, Transtheoretical Model, Self-Determination Theory will be discussed and their application in behaviour change coaching. Use of the 5 A’s Behaviour Change Counselling Process in Guiding Symptom Self-Management.

Day 2: am Practice Session and Application of Specific Skills with Simulated Patient Actors

  1. Conducting a holistic assessment of problems and concerns related to cancer and treatment.
  2. Assessment of self-management capability and capacity for management of cancer and health.
  3. Use of communication skills and specific techniques such as Ask-tell-Ask to establish rapport and for prioritizing problems to be addressed.
  4. Collaborative problem definition and shared agenda setting taking into consideration self-management capability and capacity for self-management.

Day 2 pm: Case Conceptualization and Adapting to Cancer Populations and Cancer Phases

Use of the 5 A’s Behaviour Change Counselling Process in Guiding Symptom Self-Management for Patient Management of Symptoms and Treatment Side-Effects. Strategies to maximize behavioural change will be practiced using case simulations in pairs.   Introduction to person-centered communication skills and behavioural change skills required relevant to health coaching and motivational interviewing and relevant skills.


  1. Goal Setting and Action Planning
  2. Building and Scaling Importance and Confidence in Achieving Goals
  3. Problem-Solving to Address Barriers to Reaching Goals
  4. Rolling with Resistance etc.
  5. MI Communications Skills

Day 3: am Decision-Making in Treatment Decisions and Daily Adjustment of Behaviours.

Treatment decision-making and shared decision-making for self-management for managing specific problems such as pain. Coaching in decision-making and using tools such as decision-balance scales and other decision-support tools to guide difficult decisions. Cases will focus on treatment decisions where there is a choice to be made i.e. breast cancer, prostate cancer, and micro-skills in decision-making re: managing specific problems i.e. pain; and tailoring and adjusting behaviors on a daily basis to address the dynamic nature and complexity of acute and long term cancer symptoms. Includes effective communication with healthcare providers in decisions and the tempo and trends of illness. Practice simulations with role playing.

Day 3: pm Health Coaching Treatment Plans and Monitoring Outcomes

Participants will learn how to use measures and routine patient reported outcome data to assess the whole person and apply assessment results to inform client-centered treatment plans. Integration of outcomes data in conceptualization of treatment plans and evaluation of the effectiveness of health coaching on health outcomes and methods will be a focus of learning and appropriate for patient preparation for engagement in self-management and health behaviours, based on psychological theories of engagement in complex illness management.

Day 4 am: Advancing Motivational Interviewing Skills for Healthy Lifestyle Behaviour Change

Behaviour change is the goal of health coaching for management of health and life long risks of cancer. A deeper dive into motivational interviewing and creating a care plan for behaviour change in the context of differing phases of cancer i.e. overwhelming nature of acute cancer and maintaining healthy behaviours or adopting new behaviours i.e. smoking cessation in lung cancer to improve survival.

Day 4: pm Mobilizing a Family Network of Support for Self-Management

Supporting couples, family caregivers to support patient self-management and adoption of healthy lifestyle behaviours with an emphasis on advanced disease, etc. and application of motivational interviewing skills for family facilitation of self-management.

Day 5: Capstone Evaluation with Simulated Actors

The final capstone module will allow participants to apply their new skills and knowledge, and demonstrate proficiency in cancer self-management health coaching. Professional actors are used to simulate a variety of standardized cases and scenarios that arise during the coaching process. Participants will individually book 2.5-hour sessions to practice their coaching skills in these simulations and will obtain individualized real-time feedback from Health Coach faculty. The overarching goal is to enhance participant’s confidence and readiness to incorporate health coaching into their respective practices.



Doris Howell R.N. Ph.D., FAAN


Portrait of Instructor BDorsi Howell in a Circle FrameDoris Howell is a health services research graduate of the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME)-Outcomes and Evaluation, University of Toronto. She holds a position as Senior Scientist, Supportive Care, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Research Institute and Professor (status), Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing with a cross-appointment in IHPME, University of Toronto. She also holds an Affiliate Scientist with the ELLICSR Health, Wellness & Cancer Survivorship Centre, University Health Network; and was an Associate Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, University of Toronto.

 As Co-Director of the Ontario Patient Reported Outcomes-Symptoms and Toxicity Research Unit (On-PROST), she made significant contributions to the measurement and implementation of Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) in routine cancer care. She also led the development of pan-Canadian psychosocial and survivorship guidelines that have been adapted for use in federal jurisdictions in Canada, the American Association of Clinical Oncologists and internationally in countries such as Australia.

Dr. Howell’s current research focuses on testing innovative models of healthcare delivery including proactive cancer self-management support and health coaching and remote monitoring and ‘real-time’ management of symptoms using mobile health devices. She is also conducting clinical trials testing the effects of behavioural self-management interventions to reduce the morbidity associated with complex cancer symptoms (dyspnea, fatigue, acute treatment toxicities) and optimize health recovery across the cancer trajectory. She also leads outcomes research to examine the psychosocial impact of breast cancer in young women and the role of self-efficacy as an executive member of the pan Canadian RUBY longitudinal cohort study.



Accommodation & Excursions

Toronto offers a wide range of accommodation and activities during your visit.

Please note the International Summer Institute fees does not include travel, accommodation or excursions fees. You are expected to make your own travel arrangements after the HLLN team has confirmed your registration.



There are several hotels for you to choose from, close to the venue where the Cancer Coaching Certificate will take place. 

  • The Westin Harbour Castel, Toronto - 1 Harbour Sq, Toronto, ON M5J 1A6 (Mention that you are part of the York University group for a group price of $249 + HST)
  •    Novotel Toronto Centre - 45 The Esplanade, Toronto ON M5E 1W2
  •    Radisson Admiral  Hotel Toronto Harbourfront - 249 Queen's Quay W, Toronto ON M5J 2N5


Activities and Excursions

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) features activities for every interest from professional sports to a bustling theatre or cinema scene; LGBTQ pride to innovative medical research; and much more. Cosmopolitan gems like Chinatown, Little Italy, Kensington Market blend in with the natural beauty of Toronto Island and nearby Muskoka Lakes region.

There are several sites and cities one can visit during your break days or weekend prior or after your program (York University does not endorse any tour company).

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Lake Ontario, Canada Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
 Quebec City and Montreal, Quebec, Canada New York City, USA

For further information please check with your preferred tour company or contact: ISX Canada

Please visit:                                                                                       

Call: + 1 416.920.997