How to Help Patients Change

Journal of Christian Nursing

As a nurse, how do you help patients change their unhealthy behaviors?

“Telling people to change simply does not work,” writes Luann Richardson in her article, Motivational Interviewing: Helping Patients Move Toward Change. “Unless we see the need or have a desire for change and take responsibility for changing, change is unlikely,” she states.

Richardson describes how Motivational Interviewing helps patients explore their situations, experiences, feelings, and capacity for change. Rather than telling patients what to do, clinicians listen carefully, ask questions, build trust, and accept where patients are in the behavior change process.

“Health behaviors frequently relate to deeper issues, and ambivalence and resistance are natural barriers to change,” Richardson states. “It is important to elicit the patient’s viewpoint and explore reasons for and against change, remembering that responsibility for change resides with the person who must decide if, when, and how change will occur using his or her own resources.”

Read more about “Motivational Interviewing” in this free article from the Journal of Christian Nursing, January–March 2012. CE credits are available.

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