Now that we have begun the facilitating behavior change discussion, let’s talk about how you can guide your patient through the change process using goal setting techniques.
When patients are facing the need for behavior change, it can be a frightening and anxious time for them and, as you’ve probably seen, they can react in several ways. Some may embrace the change because they see their health challenges as something to immediately overcome. On the other end of the spectrum, some may be in denial about the necessity to change and resist even the thought of making any permanent alterations to their lifestyle. How can you help them realize the need for change and get their buy-in?
Ask open-ended questions or use open-ended statements that help them understand how their life could be better. For example,
- “What would you like to be able to do that you aren’t able to do now?”
- “Describe the things that limit you from doing those things today.”
- “How much of this task would you like to be able to do now?”
- “What are some things you can do to make this happen?”
- “Tell me about a particular concern you want to discuss.”
- “What about this concern is most troubling to you?”
- “How is it affecting your life, health, and wellness?”
Once you have an idea of what can help motivate them to make change and you are starting to get their buy-in, help them create SMART goals to reach their change goals and keep them motivated to do so. You will need to make short-term and long-term goals so that they are seeing results as they go and are not de-motivated by goals that seem far away and hard to reach.
Here’s a SMART goals tool you can use!
This guide can help you and your patient understand SMART goals more fully and there is a downloadable template you can use to create SMART goals with your patients!