Healthy Conversation Skills resources


Why is changing health-related behaviour so difficult?

Changing health-related behaviour seems to be a simple matter, but the fact that we are faced with an ever-growing number of people dealing with obesity, diabetes and heart disease shows that it is not.  It's is a complex matter that has been much-studied in the fields of psychology, sociology and anthropology.

We've put together a summary of a fascinating academic paper which explores why changing health-related behaviour is so tough and how we are often hampered by traditional views about the role health practitioners can play in this process.

The paper is by renowned psychologist Associate Professor Dr Mary Barker and medical sociologist Professor Michael Kelly.  We've provided a summary for you here.  



Infographic: What you need in your healthy conversation skills toolkit
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Check out this infographic showing our five top tips to have an effective and successful Healthy Conversation.

Our five top tips are:

1. The power of silence: if you don’t fill a silence your client will have to!

2. One step at a time: even the smallest of changes can empower someone to carry on.

3. Focusing on what people are doing well helps them do more of the good stuff.

4. When in doubt, start with a What? or a How?

5. Keep it simple! What do they want to achieve? How do they want to get there?

6. Confidence is key! If confidence is low, maybe the first step is too large?


The SMARTER planning tool
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SMARTER ME Planning Tool

The SMARTER ME planning tool can help our clients plan, make and review sustainable lifestyle changes.

It's a great way to support your clients to examine potential barriers to change and to identify ways to manage these before they encounter them.

You can download the SMARTER ME Planning tool to help clients plan for and manage behaviour change here.











Healthy Conversation Skills reflection tool
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Healthy Conversation Skills Reflection Tool

Reflecting on your practice to identify what you're doing well, what you're finding challenging and what you could to better is an important principle of Healthy Conversation Skills.


Try to take some time out to reflect on how your interactions with clients are going and identify what you could do differently.


The Healthy Conversation Skill reflection tool can support you in this process.  You can download it here.






Healthy Conversation Skills Videos


Check out the videos below which show you two conversations with five different clients wanting to make lifestyle behaviour changes.  The first uses a usual style of conversation in practice, while the second uses Healthy Conversation Skills.


Watch and note the different response styles used, the engagement of the client and the conversation which makes the client more empowered to make change.



Two conversations with Dina who wants to increase her physical activity.  



Two conversations with Moa who wants to make changes to improve his blood pressure



Two conversations with Rachelle who wants to increase her physical activity while pregnant



Two conversations with Shaun who wants to improve his eating patterns.



Two conversations with Natalie who wants to improve her physical activity while pregnant



Healthy Conversation Skills Refresher E-Module

If you've done our Healthy Conversation Skills workshop, but you feel like you need a refresher on key principles and tools, then check out our refresher e-module.

This 20-minute online course gives you a rundown on the key philosophies and techniques and can be a useful reminder if you did the course some time ago.


You can find the e-module here.  Simply create a username and password by following the instructions on the right-hand side of the page.