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BEHAVIOUR CHANGE Asking the


RIGHT QUESTIONS M


As part of Health Club Management’s series on behaviour change, Dr Tim Anstiss offers practical advice for delivering health coaching: questions, tools and strategies


ore and more people are developing and living with long-term conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer and arthritis. That’s partly because we are living


longer, partly due to better medical care keeping us alive with health problems that used to kill us, and partly due to unhealthy lifestyles such as poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking and so on. So how might we best help individuals who are


experiencing poor health and wellbeing, including those who are already receiving good medical care? And how can we help healthy people to stay that way? Health coaching is one approach that’s becoming popular.


What is health coaching? The first part of Health Club Management’s behaviour change series looked at the individual as expert (see HCM May 13, p46). Health coaching sits very much alongside this: it’s an approach to helping someone that involves guiding them and supporting them, rather than instructing them on what to do. Coaching has been defi ned by The Association for


Coaching as “a collaborative, solution-focused, results- orientated and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of work performance, life


Coaching can help unlock a person's full potential


experience, self-directed learning and personal growth of the coachee”. Other defi nitions of coaching include “unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them” (Whitmore, 2003). Health coaching, by extension, is the application


of coaching psychology to help a person change their behaviour and aspects of their lifestyle in ways that are likely to be associated with improved health, reduced risk of disease or disease complications, and enhanced functional capacity (their ability to do things). One defi nition of health coaching might be: “A collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person’s own motivation and commitment to change, coupled with guidance and support in helping them make changes likely to result in improved health” (adapted from Miller and Rollnick, 2013). A large and growing body of research links this way


of talking to people with better outcomes in a range of different behaviours and settings. It helps people to eat better, lose weight, stop smoking, become more active and drink less. So how do you do health coaching?


Undertaking health coaching Firstly, it helps to have the right mindset and assumptions about behaviour change. The effective health coach:


• Knows that if the person being coached tells you the reasons why they want to change, and how they might do


• Has an optimistic view of people’s ability to change it, it’s much more powerful than the coach telling them


• Works in partnership with the other person, doing coaching with them, not to them


• Accepts that the other person is the ultimate decision- maker, not the coach


• Creates the right conditions for the person to think things through for themselves


"The health coach knows that a person's readiness to change their behaviour is related to how important they think changing the behaviour is, combined with how confident they are that they can change"


54 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital June 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


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