Healthy Conversation Skills expands with three new trainers!

01 August 2017

Healthy Conversation Skills is expanding with more courses nationwide and three new facilitators.

The one-day workshop gives health practitioners skills and strategies to support clients to make lasting behaviour changes for a healthy lifestyle.

The three new facilitators will join the Healthy Start Workforce Project’s existing trainers, Susan Miller and Mary Cavanagh.

The new facilitators have undertaken an extensive six-month training schedule and are now fully qualified to deliver Healthy Conversation Skills workshops. 

They will deliver workshops across the country and this will enable the project to get to more regions more often.

The new team come from a range of different backgrounds, but all are passionate about Healthy Conversation Skills and the way it can transform interactions with clients.

Meet our new trainers!


Liz Nash


Liz is an experienced midwife and lactation consultant, who has more recently been working as a midwifery educator.

She’s based in Marlborough and is excited about the impact Healthy Conversation Skills can have for New Zealand midwives working with women and whānau.

“To me this course is perfect for midwives because they are there at the start of a child’s life and they can make such a difference to that child’s health at that time and into in the future.

“Mothers are often very open to making changes so it’s a great time to be talking about lifestyle behaviours and Healthy Conversation Skills gives midwives another tool in the toolbox to use at this crucial time,” she says.

Liz says she understands the time pressures health practitioners operate under, but says Healthy Conversation Skills actually enable health workers to be more effective.

She says Healthy Conversation Skills reflects the midwifery partnership model of care by focusing on listening to women and enabling them to identify solutions which fit with their own lives.

Liz is looking forward to meeting people from across the health sector who are doing amazing work.

Deirdre Nielsen


Deirdre is a dietitian at Counties Manukau Health and a research dietitian with the Healthy Mums and Babies trial (HUMBA) which aims to improve the health of mothers and babies in South Auckland.

Deirdre’s excited about becoming a Healthy Conversation Skills trainer because she was so inspired when she did the course herself.

She says the training changed the way she interacts with clients.

“In my work, I’ve found that this approach definitely gets a response from clients and helps them to identify what they want to change.  I’ve found it to be very powerful!”

Deirdre says she’s looking forward to sharing her skills and knowledge with health workforces in South Auckland.

Anne-Maree Therkleson


Anne-Maree hails from Nelson and has worked extensively with Victim Support as a youth justice co-ordinator, a volunteer trainer and a manager.

She’s also led a team supporting homeless women for Mission Australia and more recently has followed her passion and works as a dance teacher.  

Anne-Maree says she’s been inspired by the Healthy Conversation Skills philosophies, particularly the tenet of active listening, which enables the practitioner to explore their clients’ needs effectively in what is often a short time frame.

She believes the tools learnt in a Healthy Conversation Skills workshop are highly transferable and can be used by anyone involved in helping people.

Anne-Maree says they are particularly valuable for those in the health sector.

“I see how relevant this workshop is for health practitioners because it’s about identifying what people truly want to change in order to improve their health and lifestyle choices.  It’s about supporting them to make those long-lasting changes in their lives.  I think it’s a really powerful tool for everyone to have,” she says.

She’s looking forward to sharing her skills and experience with others.