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What is a behavior change specialist?

Last Modified: September 27, 2021

Diseases & Disorders, Family Medicine

Behavior change speciliast

This post was written by Kate Creager, MCHES, lifestyle change specialist, Diabetes Care Services, Parkview Health.

Imagine that your doctor just told you that you have Type 2 Diabetes, or you must lose weight before bariatric surgery. In either scenario, you may feel overwhelmed and struggle to identify a starting point. It’s as if you were about to move from one home to another, and you weren’t sure of how or where to start packing.

You may even ask yourself, What do I do next? Where do I start with improving my physical activity? How do I go about revamping my diet? Many people tend to freeze up in situations like this, but that’s where a behavior change specialist (BCS) comes in and can make all the difference. A BCS can help someone break down their goals into smaller, manageable steps.

Everyone’s welcome

Anyone working toward any health or wellness goal could benefit from working with a BCS. They can help provide the following:

  • Accountability
  • Support
  • Encouragement
  • Additional resources to work towards overall wellness goals
  • And more!

Also, while patients with diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure would benefit from the service, the truth is, anyone could profit by working with a BCS or wellness coach. Needing to change behaviors doesn’t mean we are damaged or doing something wrong. Instead, it’s just another way we continue to grow and improve.

Finding balance

A BCS will not judge you or tell you what to do. They will not force you to eliminate certain foods or food groups. Instead, they will help you find balance. You are the expert on your health. The BCS is simply a resource to help you finetune your behavior, so you can see your full potential while working on each component of your wellness (mental, physical, social and spiritual). In addition to working with you, a BCS can also work with your care team to customize your care plan to fit your individual needs.

The right time

So, when should you utilize a BCS? Anytime! Whenever you need accountability and assistance in reaching your goals, that’s the best time to work with a BCS. Remember, just as we experience seasons of change in weather, we also experience seasons of change in our behaviors, motivations and life. So, someone may utilize a BCS for one specific reason or choose to employ them regularly. The goal of a BCS is to be there for you when you need it!

Oh, the places they’ll go

While most sessions occur on the phone or via a virtual platform, a BCS can meet you anywhere, literally. Are you struggling to navigate the grocery store or read nutrition labels? A BCS can meet you there and walk you through the process. Need help articulating or understanding information at a doctor’s appointment? A BCS can join you. The possibilities are endless!

Better together

Let’s revisit the analogy of relocating homes. We often know what we need to do when moving, but we aren’t always sure how to approach it or where to start. Is it best to start with one room (or wellness habit) or tackle a bit of each room at once? Maybe we are completely exhausted with the idea of change and need to call in reinforcements to help motivate us, keep us accountable or make the task more fun and less tedious.

This is how many people feel when looking to improve their health. They know they need to renovate their health habits but are unsure how to fit everything into their busy schedules. How do I make my food taste better? How do I get used to and stick to my new routine?  What do I do when something detours me? How do I get back on track? Fortunately, you are not alone. These are all great questions and things to work through with a BCS.

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