5 Elements of Efficient Communication in Well being Schooling and Counseling


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

Not like casual, day by day communication with family and friends, communication in a healthcare surroundings, together with well being teaching and counseling, should be fastidiously 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 assist community continues to have a central function of their success.  

What, precisely, does well being communication entail? What are a few of the elements 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 raised perceive what takes place as you work together together with your consumer. Then it provides 5 elements of well being communication as introduced by well being training and counseling specialists.  

Download the Holistic Health Coach Guide

The Mannequin of Well being Communication  

 All types of verbal communication, and lots of types of written communication, could 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 types an concept about what they thought the speaker meant.  
  1. The listener processes the data additional, usually with a forwards and backwards with the speaker, to come back nearer to understanding what the speaker really meant.  

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

  • First, the speaker’s phrases could not have been heard correctly by the listener. Possibly there are distractions, language and pronunciation variations, or loud noises.  
  • Second, the speaker could not talk clearly resulting from issue expressing ideas. This could happen resulting from 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 types conclusions about what the speaker is attempting to speak. Through the decoding course of, biases and previous experiences can have a robust affect on the listener’s interpretation of the speaker’s message.   

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

Key Elements in Efficient Communication in Counseling and Teaching 

Observe: These elements described beneath are primarily based on the textual content Vitamin Counseling & Schooling Ability Improvement 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 

While you talk together with your consumer throughout a training or counseling session, it’s not like having a dialog with a buddy or member of the family. It will be important that you just 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 consumer shares data 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 main focus ought to align with the broader counseling targets or what your consumer, together with your assist, 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 rules, and your private communication model.  

Counseling response intents can fall into three fundamental classes:  

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

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

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

Instance: You talked about that you just don’t really feel protected going to the health club in the neighborhood heart to train. Would you are feeling snug elaborating extra on why you are feeling unsafe? 

  1. To problem. If you happen to acknowledge a possibility to your consumer to suppose critically about their ideas or actions, acknowledge contradictions, or need them to consider taking a distinct plan of action, then your response intent might be to respectfully problem your consumer.  

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 just 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 Conduct 

Physique language researcher Albert Mehrabian was one of many first scientists to interrupt down the elements 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, power stage, posture, and even the area you permit between your self and one other individual.  

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

As well being coaches and counselors, it’s crucial that you just study to concentrate on your nonverbal communication and undertake behaviors which can be conducive to constructing belief and rapport together with your consumer.  

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

  • Area: Ineffective behaviors could be leaving an excessive amount of area or getting too shut. Efficient 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 give attention to the consumer.  
  • Eye contact: Ineffective behaviors embody absence (similar to wanting down at notes or your cellphone for lengthy intervals of time).  
  • Facial features: Ineffective behaviors could embody facial expressions that don’t match your emotions, a scowl, or a clean, absent look. Efficient behaviors could be facial expressions that match your or your consumer’s emotions or a relaxed smile.  

Harmonize Verbal and Nonverbal Conduct  

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

Synchrony is a well-liked gross sales approach to ascertain rapport with potential purchasers. It is because once you mirror your consumer’s physique language, quantity, and silence, you enhance your consumer’s sensitivity and talk empathy.  

Don’t mirror your consumer’s nonverbal habits 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 consumer. 

Analyze Nonverbal Communication Conduct in Your Consumer 

Identical to your consumer will consciously or subconsciously concentrate on your nonverbal communication, it’s best to make some extent to make be aware of your consumer’s nonverbal communication habits. By observing their nonverbal communication, you’ll acquire clues about what your consumer is pondering or feeling.  

Take a couple of 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 will also be a mirrored image of behavior or of a well being situation. For instance, you may suppose {that a} consumer who’s sweating profusely could be very nervous, however they could have a thyroid dysfunction or be experiencing sizzling flashes.  

On this sense, it can be crucial that coaches don’t soar to conclusions when observing nonverbal communication however as a substitute use them as clues. When applicable, and with their permission, you may ask about nonverbal behaviors it’s possible you’ll discover. 

Determine and Decrease Communication Roadblocks  

Communication roadblocks are obstacles people put up that block communication, depth, and exploration of sure subjects. They’re the antithesis to the rules 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 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 applicable in the event you really feel the counseling session must take a brand new course. Attempt to keep away from utilizing roadblocks abruptly, and solely accomplish that after you could have listened to your consumer and understood their message.  

Fundamental 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, kind their very own opinions, and determine the best way to reply.  

For well being educators, counselors, and coaches, this course of should be taken very significantly, as it’s a central component in supporting purchasers to undertake wholesome habits modifications.  

On this article, you discovered in regards to the central components of well being communication, and also you discovered about a few of the elements that may show you how to be a simpler listener and speaker. These expertise are additional developed in AFPA’s teaching and counseling certifications.  

New call-to-action


  1. https://www.shapeamerica.org/uploads/pdfs/2019/advocacy/position-statements/well being/Important-Elements-of-Well being-Schooling.pdf 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6101690/ 
  3. https://publichealth.tulane.edu/weblog/communication-in-healthcare/ 
  4. https://nam12.safelinks.safety.outlook.com/GetUrlReputation  
  5. https://nam12.safelinks.safety.outlook.com/GetUrlReputation  


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here