Health Coaching Approach – Part 5: Eliciting Change Talk

Evidence-based Health Coaching helps patients adopt necessary behavior change through methods that differ from traditional practitioner-patient relationships. One of the approaches used in Evidence-based Health Coaching is eliciting change talk. 

Rollnick & Miller (2008) discovered a correlation between how likely a patient is to change and how often he or she talks about change. So, being able to elicit change talk is incredibly important to the behavior change process and it is a key method of Evidence-based Health Coaching.

Being able to identify a patient’s level of readiness for change through active listening is the best way to determine how to elicit change talk. Through conversation, you can determine whether the patient is contemplating change, preparing for change, or have actually started the change process. Certain phrases the patient uses can help you determine their stage. Phrases like “I don’t believe I need____” shows he or she is not even contemplating the change. Whereas, a discussion about their program, medication, diet, exercise etc. can show that he or she has at least been thinking about the necessary changes.

When the conversation hints at a lessening of their fears, the creation of a new routine, or some other change, you know he or she has begun the change process. However, you need to look out for phrasing that suggests he or she is relapsing. Once you know their stage, tailor your conversation with them accordingly (Huffman, 2009).



Huffman, M. (2009). Health Coaching: A Fresh, New Approach to Improve Quality Outcomes and Compliance for

Patients with Chronic Conditions. Home Healthcare Nurse, 27 (8), p. 490-498.

Rollnick, S., Miller W. R., & Butler, C. C. (2008). Motivational interviewing in health care: Helping patients change

            behavior. New York: Guilford Press.

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