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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 be a ability that well being professionals can develop to enhance their shopper relationships and total success.   

Not like casual, every day communication with family and friends, communication in a healthcare surroundings, together with well being teaching and counseling, should 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 of their success.  

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

This text introduces you to a mannequin of well being communication to higher perceive what takes place as you work together together with your shopper. Then it presents 5 parts of well being communication as introduced by well being schooling and counseling specialists.  

The Mannequin of Well being Communication  

 All types of verbal communication, and lots of types of written communication, might 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, which means the listener kinds an thought about what they thought the speaker meant.  
  1. The listener processes the data additional, typically with a forwards and backwards with the speaker, to return nearer to understanding what the speaker really meant.  

In well being communication, and in communication normally, the speaker’s supposed message might be distorted in three other ways:  

  • First, the speaker’s phrases might not have been heard correctly by the listener. Perhaps there are distractions, language and pronunciation variations, or loud noises.  
  • Second, the speaker might not talk clearly on account of problem expressing ideas. This will happen on account of language limitations or coping with complicated feelings, concepts, or ideas the speaker has not totally processed.  
  • Third, the listener can distort the message throughout the decoding course of, which is when the listener analyzes and kinds conclusions about what the speaker is making an attempt to speak. Throughout the decoding course of, biases and previous experiences can have a powerful affect on the listener’s interpretation of the speaker’s message.   

Diet, well being, and wellness counselors and coaches can keep away from a few of the communication roadblocks by implementing the important thing parts of efficient communication and counseling defined within the subsequent part.  

Key Parts in Efficient Communication in Counseling and Teaching 

Observe: These parts described under are based mostly on the textual content Nutrition Counseling & Education Skill Development by Kathleen D. Bauer and Doreen Liou. That is additionally the textual content utilized in a number of AFPA certifications programs.  

Use Counseling Focuses and Intentions When Formulating Responses 

Whenever you talk together with your shopper throughout a training or counseling session, it isn’t like having a dialog with a pal or member of the family. It’s important that you simply modify informal communication behaviors like speaking about your self, making exaggerated facial or verbal expressions, and being fast to fill within the silence with questions, feedback, or anecdotes.  When your shopper shares info with you or asks a query, you’ll be able to 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 schooling session. The main target ought to align with the broader counseling aims or what your shopper, together with your help, needs to realize in your counseling classes.  

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 type.  

Counseling response intents can fall into three principal classes:  

  1. To acknowledge. You may select to affirm, present respect, determine observations, rephrase what you might be listening to, and affirm the worthiness and significance of your shopper’s emotions and experiences. Right here, you might need to construct your relationship additional, encourage your shopper to proceed speaking, and build rapport.  

Instance: I hear you saying that your physician didn’t acknowledge your knee ache, despite the fact that that’s the reason you set the appointment. That should have been irritating.  

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

Instance: You talked about that you simply don’t really feel protected going to the gymnasium in the neighborhood middle to train. Would you’re feeling snug elaborating extra on why you’re feeling unsafe? 

  1. To problem. When you acknowledge a possibility on your shopper to assume critically about their ideas or actions, acknowledge contradictions, or need them to consider taking a distinct plan of action, then your response intent could possibly be to respectfully problem your shopper.  

Instance: Thanks for sharing your frustrations with the variety of servings of greens within the weekly meal plan your dietitian gave you. I see right here in your meals frequency questionnaire that you simply have been accustomed to consuming the identical variety 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 Efficient Nonverbal Communication and Habits 

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

Vocal communication contains components like quantity, stress, inflection, and velocity. Nonverbal communication contains physique language, eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, vitality stage, posture, and even the area you allow between your self and one other individual.  

On the whole, individuals are likely to belief nonverbal conduct greater than verbal communication as a result of a lot of our physique language and facial features will not be beneath acutely aware management.  

As well being coaches and counselors, it’s crucial that you simply study to pay attention to your nonverbal communication and undertake behaviors which might be conducive to constructing belief and rapport together with your shopper.  

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

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

Harmonize Verbal and Nonverbal Habits  

Coaches and counselors can apply harmonizing their physique language with that of their shopper. That is known as synchrony 

Synchrony is a well-liked gross sales method to ascertain rapport with potential purchasers. It is because while you mirror your shopper’s physique language, quantity, and silence, you improve your shopper’s sensitivity and talk empathy.  

Don’t mirror your shopper’s nonverbal conduct to the acute or to some extent the place it seems you are attempting to be extra like them than your self or mocking your shopper. 

Analyze Nonverbal Communication Habits in Your Shopper 

Similar to your shopper will consciously or subconsciously pay attention to your nonverbal communication, you need to make a degree to make word of your shopper’s nonverbal communication conduct. By observing their nonverbal communication, you’ll achieve clues about what your shopper is pondering or feeling.  

Take just a few moments to consider what a few of the following nonverbal behaviors may imply about an individual’s ideas or emotions:  

  • Crossed arms 
  • Clenched fists 
  • Eyes broad and eyebrows raised 
  • Lack of eye contact 
  • Smile 
  • Shaking head  
  • Biting the lip 
  • Tapping toes 
  • 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 may assume {that a} shopper who’s sweating profusely may be very nervous, however they might have a thyroid dysfunction or be experiencing scorching flashes.  

On this sense, it’s important that coaches don’t leap to conclusions when observing nonverbal communication however as a substitute use them as clues. When acceptable, and with their permission, you’ll be able to ask about nonverbal behaviors you might discover. 

Establish and Decrease Communication Roadblocks  

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

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

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. Attempt to keep away from utilizing roadblocks abruptly, and solely achieve this after you might have listened to your shopper and understood their message.  

Essential Takeaways 

Nonverbal, vocal, and oral communication work collectively to ship messages to others. Listeners interpret these components consciously and subconsciously after which course of them to grasp others, type their very own opinions, and resolve methods to reply.  

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

On this article, you discovered in regards to the central components of well being communication, and also you discovered about a few of the parts that may enable you be a more practical listener and speaker. These abilities are additional developed in AFPA’s teaching and counseling certifications.  

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  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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