Imagine entering a yoga class for the first time ever. The instructor takes the time to welcome everyone and describes the history of yoga, basic principles, and potential benefits for those who practice it. You look around the class, and there are yoga practitioners of all levels, from beginners, like yourself, to advanced learners with years of experience.
The trainer shows you pictures of the poses you will master and explains how they will be useful. But before the first class is over, you don’t actually practice anything.
In the next class, the teacher names yoga poses and watches as the beginners in the class freeze with fear and confusion. Intermediate learners try to remember the situations and then try to follow the advanced learners instead.
This is a weird and confusing yoga class, right?
You’ve been told all about yoga and how it will be beneficial, but you haven’t actually learned how to do yoga! It was expected, from class to class, to demonstrate progress in yoga with minimal guidance from the instructor.
This scenario is certainly strange (and highly unlikely in the world of yoga). However, something similar happens all the time to patients and clients during healthcare professional visits.
At the first appointment, the health professional explains the client’s current health status and how certain lifestyle changes can benefit them. But they are not supported by ttools and strategies You can help them make those changes. Then, by the next date, they are expected to have made progress by any means possible on their own.
Health coaches help ensure that their clients don’t feel alone, scared, or confused on their journey toward improved health and wellness, as you might feel during these fantasy yoga classes.
But for your clients to truly feel supported and guided, it is critical that health professionals like yourself interact with clients. Proven health behavior change strategies.
This article outlines five proven behavior change strategies you can implement with your coaching clients to help them feel more confident about making healthy behavior changes.
The strategies described in this article are a summary of the strategies used in Nutrition counseling and education skills development Written by Kathleen D. Bauer and Doreen Liu, one of the central textbooks used in An AFPA-accredited Holistic Nutrition Program.
Introduction to the ABCs of Behavior
There are many behavior change theories Which is useful in guiding trainers in developing their own training program and style. One of the most popular is the social cognitive theory of behavior change, which frames discussion of behavior change strategies by focusing on points in the behavior continuum. The ABCs of Behavior (Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence) are useful for understanding which strategies may be most beneficial to your client based on their specific circumstances. ABC stands for:
- predecessor (stimulus, cue, trigger): Feeling hungry triggers the desire to eat, just as triggers like having a bowl of fruit on the table can trigger fruit as a snack. Antecedents can include the physical availability of foods, social stimuli (such as limbs), emotional stimuli (such as stress), and psychological behaviors (such as motivation).
- behavior (Response, eating): Behavior is the response to the predecessor. In nutrition, you could address the speed at which your client eats, the physical environment in which he eats, his awareness of what and how much he is eating, among other things.
- consequence (Punishment, reward): It includes positive and negative reinforcement. Behaviors can be rewarded or punished with something immediate, such as giving or denying a privilege, or with something long-term, such as feeling more or less energetic, staying out of the hospital, and more.
As a coach, you can determine which following strategies are appropriate for your client after evaluating the ABCs of the particular behavior that you and your client want to address.
A behavior chain is a way to allow clients to think about behaviors by analyzing the sequence of events from the antecedent to the outcome. Behavioral strategies can focus on one aspect of antecedents, behaviors, or consequences, or they can focus on the behavior chain as a whole. For example, you and your client may want to address stress before diving into stress-responsive eating behaviors. Research shows that clients with less stress are more likely to accept and stick with behavior change interventions over the long term.
Bauer and Lowe suggest the following way to implement behavioral chains with your client:
Ask your client to write a recurring behavior by first defining the behavior, then defining the cue, and then describing the outcome. Ask them if this is a behavior they would like to continue. If so, follow up by asking them how to encourage the occurrence of the cue, and if not, ask them how to reduce the occurrence of the stimulus.
Cue management (stimulus control)
Hint management focuses on the ABCs of Behavior antecedent. It is a way for coaches and clients to work together to identify and modify social or environmental cues that lead to behavior. This strategy can be developed as follows:
- Define a specific behavior that the customer wants to maintain or modify.
- Select multiple signals. These can be in the physical environment (location, activities, eating at a restaurant, shopping, reminders, food storage), the social environment (social events, negative social influence, social support), or eating behaviors (how long food stays in the mouth and what It is the amount of food left on the plate and its quantity).
- Identify strategies for increasing positive behaviors and decreasing negative behaviors through signal management. For example, if reading while eating triggers mindless eating, you and your client can discuss the possibility of eating without distraction.
- Explore implementing reminders to implement the new activity.
Coping is a technique in which clients exchange problem behaviors (B in the chain) for healthy behaviors. Here, the signal or trigger is not dealt with but rather the behavior itself. Coping is useful when the goal is to find an activity that can replace the problem behavior.
For example, if the problem behavior is getting up too late for breakfast, this behavior can be replaced with a behavior that motivates the client to get up early enough for breakfast. This could include listening to their favorite True Crime podcast while they’re in the shower or setting their favorite song as their alarm.
Some other examples of substitutions include:
- Foods that are healthy alternatives
- active conversions
- physical activities
- relaxation activities
Behaviors are often learned, and observing others achieving a goal or modifying a behavior can improve a person’s belief that they can also modify healthy behaviour. The process of observing others and implementing changes in a similar way is called modeling.
Some of the ways you can use modeling in your coaching practice include client videos, documentaries, testimonials, success stories, coaching buddies, group coaching, and mentors.
Problem solving is a process in which the coach and client work together to define a chain of behavior, identify barriers to change, and identify possible options for overcoming the barriers.
There are several types of perceived barriers, also known as obstacles or roadblocks, to change:
- Lack of knowledge (not knowing what behaviors are harmful or positive for health)
- Lack of skill (doesn’t know how to cook or do yoga)
- Lack of risk taking (fear or anxiety)
- Lack of social support
- The complexity of the diet
- Cultural barriers (cultural foods not available in the area)
- financial constraints
One technology developed by Glasgow and his team To solve problems is called STOP, which means:
- Define the problem
- Think about the options
- Choose the best solution
- Put the solution into practice
The main takeaway
Behavior change strategies are essential for coaches to successfully support clients in gaining confidence in wanting to change behaviors, skills on how to change behaviors, and tools to actually change behaviors in a sustainable way. This article described five strategies for behavior change: problem solving, modeling, coping, cue management, and behavior chains.
Note that these behavior change strategies can be powerful, and should not be abused to trigger disordered eating habits or a fear of food. Ideally, the client has a concrete health goal in mind and is aware of how their current behaviors are affecting their health problems. Always check in with your client regularly, make sure they eat enough nutritious food, don’t overdo exercise, and practice self-care.