Healthy Conversation Skills opened my eyes

13 October 2015
Deirdre Nielsen

In this regular series, we speak with someone who has done Health Conversation Skills Training to find out how’s it’s influenced their everyday practice.

Here we speak to Deirdre Nielsen, an outpatient dietitian at Counties Manukau Health and a research dietitian with the HUMBA trial which aims to improve the health of obese mothers and their babies in South Auckland.

Deirdre became a dietitian to help people improve their quality of life and their health.  And this was also her motivation for undertaking Healthy Conversation Skills training.

“When I heard about the training, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s something I should do because I felt it would really get me thinking about other ways in which to help people,” she says.

Deirdre attended a training session with Healthy Conversation Skills founder Dr Wendy Lawrence and came away from the session inspired.

“The training was excellent and because it’s a group setting it really opens your eyes to the way others think about lifestyle behaviour change and what’s possible.  I came away really excited about integrating what I’d learnt into my daily practice,” she says.

The training prompted Deirdre to change the way she interacts with clients.  She now uses many more open discovery questions (what and how questions) to get to the nub of what a client wants to achieve.

“The training heighted my awareness of asking “what and how” questions and I’ve found that this approach definitely gets a response from clients and helps them identify what they want to change.  That’s why I’ve continued with it!  I’ve found it to be a very powerful.”

Deirdre says using the Healthy Conversations Skills SMARTER model to create a plan for change has also been extremely useful for her clients.

She mentions a woman in a weight management group who was so overwhelmed with the potential changes she could make to improve her lifestyle. 

“I used the tools I’d learnt in Healthy Conversation Skills to really drill down and get her to identify what she wanted to achieve, what the barriers were, what the solutions were and to create an achievable plan.  And it worked so that was fantastic,” Deirdre says.

She believes Healthy Conversation Skills will benefit any health professional working with clients to achieve behaviour change.

“I would definitely recommend it. It gives you another useful tool in the toolbox when negotiating goals with clients and helps the client to set realistic and achievable goals.”

Find out more about Healthy Conversation Skills here.