Getting healthier and staying that way takes more than a good diet and regular exercise. In addition to the physical aspects, better habits require a whole change in thinking, behavior, and engagement with psychosocial and emotional factors. In the advanced primary care model, health coaching is an integral part of the process of helping patients live healthier, fuller, happier lives. One reason it’s so effective is because we use the transtheoretical model of change.

The key to health is behavior change

Telling a patient that they need to drink more water is simple. But ensuring that the patient follows through with this advice can be a different problem altogether. What if, instead of only advising them, the primary care team had a way to help their patients actually improve their habits and thereby improve their overall health?

One of the basic premises of advanced primary care is that behavior change is the key to improved health and outcomes. Helping patients to adjust their behavior with practical steps — along with education, support, and encouragement through regular follow-ups — is the best way to form better habits at individual and population scales. It also minimizes negative social determinants of health.

Vera Blog 9.10 Change Over Time@2xThe transtheoretical model

Developed in 1977, the transtheoretical model is widely regarded as an effective way to understand how people move through different stages of behavior change. As the core of our health coaching service, it’s an invaluable tool to help patients create positive change over time.

There are two main components to this model:

  1. Stages of change indicates where a patient is on their health journey, and includes pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance
  2. Processes of change highlights common cognitive and behavioral processes used to move between stages

The ways in which a patient moves through the stages of change include both overt and covert behaviors. Vera Whole Health providers and health coaches who are trained in the transtheoretical model can identify which process patients favor, then build on that knowledge to encourage their behavior change. It’s an invaluable tool to help patients — by giving them the resources they need to take ownership of their health, change their behavior, and live healthier.

Health coaching for better habits and lifestyles

The Vera health coaching approach means meeting patients wherever they are in their health journey and using the transtheoretical model to help them move forward. Our health coaches guide patients through every step of change so that they feel supported and confident in taking control of their own health.

Whether that means quitting smoking, being more active, or even achieving life goals unrelated to health and fitness, Vera health coaches employ empathetic listening to understand what their patients need, determine what obstacles they have to overcome, and then work with them to form and execute a plan.

Unlike other health or lifestyle “coaches,” Vera health coaches undergo intensive onboarding to ensure that they’re truly equipped and prepared to help their patients. They’re trained by our Learning and Development Department in empathetic listening practices and the transtheoretical model, and the best ways to apply them alongside the prescriptive medicine approach of the primary care team.

Improving whole patient health means looking at all aspects of a patient’s lifestyle and helping them to achieve physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Vera health coaches (and the transtheoretical model of behavior change) help to make that process more manageable.

 

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