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5 Components of Effective Communication in Health Education and Counseling

Communication is the first device of all well being, diet, and wellness educators, coaches, and counselors. Communication can also be a talent that well being professionals can develop to enhance their consumer relationships and general success.   

Unlike casual, every day communication with buddies and household, communication in a healthcare setting, together with well being teaching and counseling, have to be rigorously thought out and practiced. There are a number of communication interactions that should happen earlier than purchasers start to work towards their desired well being behaviors, and communication with their help community continues to have a central function in their success.  

What, precisely, does well being communication entail? What are some of the parts of efficient communication that well being, wellness, and diet coaches and counselors can follow and implement?  

This article introduces you to a mannequin of well being communication to higher perceive what takes place as you work together together with your consumer. Then it presents 5 parts of well being communication as offered by well being training and counseling specialists.  

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The Model of Health Communication  

 All varieties of verbal communication, and many varieties of written communication, may be divided right into a four-step course of that repeats itself as a cycle.  

Dr. Thomas Gordon summarizes these steps succinctly:  

  1. The speaker says phrases.  
  1. The listener hears the speaker’s phrases. 
  1. The listener decodes the speaker’s phrases, that means the listener varieties an thought about what they thought the speaker meant.  
  1. The listener processes the data additional, typically with a again and forth with the speaker, to return nearer to understanding what the speaker really meant.  

In well being communication, and in communication in basic, the speaker’s supposed message may be distorted in three alternative ways:  

  • First, the speaker’s phrases could not have been heard correctly by the listener. Maybe there are distractions, language and pronunciation variations, or loud noises.  
  • Second, the speaker could not talk clearly attributable to problem expressing ideas. This can happen attributable to language limitations or coping with advanced feelings, concepts, or ideas the speaker has not absolutely processed.  
  • Third, the listener can distort the message in the course of the decoding course of, which is when the listener analyzes and varieties conclusions about what the speaker is making an attempt to speak. During the decoding course of, biases and previous experiences can have a robust affect on the listener’s interpretation of the speaker’s message.   

Nutrition, well being, and wellness counselors and coaches can keep away from some of the communication roadblocks by implementing the important thing parts of efficient communication and counseling defined in the following part.  

Key Components in Effective Communication in Counseling and Coaching 

Note: These parts described beneath are primarily based on the textual content Nutrition Counseling & Education Skill Development by Kathleen D. Bauer and Doreen Liou. This can also be the textual content used in a number of AFPA certifications programs.  

Use Counseling Focuses and Intentions When Formulating Responses 

When you talk together with your consumer throughout a training or counseling session, it’s not like having a dialog with a good friend or member of the family. It is necessary that you simply modify informal communication behaviors like speaking about your self, making exaggerated facial or verbal expressions, and being fast to fill in the silence with questions, feedback, or anecdotes.  When your consumer shares info with you or asks a query, you may formulate your response by first figuring out a counseling focus and intent.  

A counseling focus is the place you place your emphasis on a response throughout a counseling and training session. The focus ought to align with the broader counseling aims or what your consumer, together with your help, needs to attain in your counseling periods.  

A counseling intent (or intention) is the rationale for choosing a specific response.   

The counseling focus and intent ought to each align with the counseling focus, trauma-informed communication principles, and your private communication model.  

Counseling response intents can fall into three principal classes:  

  1. To acknowledge. You would possibly select to affirm, present respect, determine observations, rephrase what you might be listening to, and affirm the worthiness and significance of your consumer’s emotions and experiences. Here, chances are you’ll need to construct your relationship additional, encourage your consumer to proceed speaking, and build rapport.  

Example: I hear you saying that your physician didn’t acknowledge your knee ache, regardless that that’s the reason you set the appointment. That will need to have been irritating.  

  1. To discover. If you need to make clear an thought, get hold of extra info, or achieve deeper perception, you would possibly need to ask questions, present info and ask for his or her ideas, or ask for clarification.  

Example: You talked about that you simply don’t really feel secure going to the health club in the group heart to train. Would you are feeling snug elaborating extra on why you are feeling unsafe? 

  1. To problem. If you acknowledge a possibility on your consumer to assume critically about their ideas or actions, acknowledge contradictions, or need them to consider taking a unique course of motion, then your response intent may very well be to respectfully problem your consumer.  

Example: Thank you for sharing your frustrations with the quantity of servings of greens in the weekly meal plan your dietitian gave you. I see right here in your meals frequency questionnaire that you simply had been accustomed to consuming the identical quantity of servings of greens earlier than beginning your meal plan. Has one thing modified? Or is there one thing else in regards to the meal plan that’s bothering you?   

Use Effective Nonverbal Communication and Behavior 

Body language researcher Albert Mehrabian was one of the primary scientists to interrupt down the parts of face-to-face dialog. He discovered that communication is 55% nonverbal, 38% vocal, and 7% phrases solely.   

Vocal communication contains parts like quantity, stress, inflection, and pace. Nonverbal communication contains physique language, eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, power stage, posture, and even the house you allow between your self and one other individual.  

In basic, folks are inclined to belief nonverbal conduct greater than verbal communication as a result of a lot of our physique language and facial features shouldn’t be below acutely aware management.  

As well being coaches and counselors, it’s crucial that you simply be taught to remember of your nonverbal communication and undertake behaviors which might be conducive to constructing belief and rapport together with your consumer.  

Here are some examples of nonverbal modes of communication and ineffective and efficient behaviors for well being counselors and coaches:  

  • Space: Ineffective behaviors could be leaving an excessive amount of house or getting too shut. Effective behaviors could be roughly arm’s size or the gap your consumer communicates is snug for them.  
  • Posture: Ineffective behaviors could be slouching, too inflexible, or leaning away out of your consumer. Relaxed, attentive posture with a slight lean towards your consumer communicates open ears and concentrate on the consumer.  
  • Eye contact: Ineffective behaviors embody absence (reminiscent of trying down at notes or your cellphone for lengthy durations of time).  
  • (*5*)Facial expression: Ineffective behaviors could embody facial expressions that don’t match your emotions, a scowl, or a clean, absent look. Effective behaviors could be facial expressions that match your or your consumer’s emotions or a relaxed smile.  

Harmonize Verbal and Nonverbal Behavior  

Coaches and counselors can follow harmonizing their physique language with that of their consumer. This is known as synchrony 

Synchrony is a well-liked gross sales approach to ascertain rapport with potential purchasers. This is as a result of whenever you mirror your consumer’s physique language, quantity, and silence, you improve your consumer’s sensitivity and talk empathy.  

Do not mirror your consumer’s nonverbal conduct to the intense or to some extent the place it seems you are attempting to be extra like them than your self or mocking your consumer. 

Analyze Nonverbal Communication Behavior in Your Client 

Just like your consumer will consciously or subconsciously remember of your nonverbal communication, it’s best to make some extent to make word of your consumer’s nonverbal communication conduct. By observing their nonverbal communication, you’ll achieve clues about what your consumer is considering or feeling.  

Take a couple of moments to consider what some of the next nonverbal behaviors would possibly imply about an individual’s ideas or emotions:  

  • Crossed arms 
  • Clenched fists 
  • Eyes large and eyebrows raised 
  • Lack of eye contact 
  • Smile 
  • Shaking head  
  • Biting the lip 
  • Tapping ft 
  • Slouching 
  • Sitting on the sting of the seat 

Nonverbal communication norms differ throughout cultures and can be a mirrored image of behavior or of a well being situation. For instance, you would possibly assume {that a} consumer who’s sweating profusely may be very nervous, however they might have a thyroid dysfunction or be experiencing sizzling flashes.  

In this sense, it is crucial that coaches don’t soar to conclusions when observing nonverbal communication however as a substitute use them as clues. When acceptable, and with their permission, you may ask about nonverbal behaviors chances are you’ll discover. 

Identify and Minimize Communication Roadblocks  

Communication roadblocks are obstacles people put up that block communication, depth, and exploration of sure subjects. They are the antithesis to the principles of motivational interviewing 

For well being, wellness, and diet counselors and coaches, communication roadblocks may embody imposing their very own views, opinions, biases, judgments, experiences, and prejudices on purchasers. They dismiss the consumer’s experiences, opinions, values, and feelings and place the counselor’s or coach’s as the final word reality.  

Some examples of roadblocks embody:  

  • Ordering or commanding 
  • Warning or threatening 
  • Giving unsolicited recommendation
  • Lecturing 
  • Moralizing or preaching 
  • Withdrawing, distracting, or altering the topic 

In sure circumstances, some roadblocks are acceptable when you really feel the counseling session must take a brand new path. Try to keep away from utilizing roadblocks abruptly, and solely accomplish that after you will have listened to your consumer and understood their message.  

Main Takeaways 

Nonverbal, vocal, and oral communication work collectively to ship messages to others. Listeners interpret these parts consciously and subconsciously and then course of them to know others, kind their very own opinions, and determine reply.  

For well being educators, counselors, and coaches, this course of have to be taken very severely, as it’s a central factor in supporting purchasers to undertake wholesome conduct adjustments.  

In this text, you realized in regards to the central parts of well being communication, and you realized about some of the parts that may allow you to be a simpler listener and speaker. These expertise are additional developed in AFPA’s teaching and counseling certifications.  

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References:  

  1. https://www.shapeamerica.org/uploads/pdfs/2019/advocacy/position-statements/health/Essential-Components-of-Health-Education.pdf 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6101690/ 
  3. https://publichealth.tulane.edu/blog/communication-in-healthcare/ 
  4. https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/GetUrlReputation  
  5. https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/GetUrlReputation  



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