Talking points for partnering with clients
- Open the conversation.
- Can we talk about Bella’s weight?
- What are your thoughts about Bella’s weight?
- Build awareness of health issues without overloading the listener with details about disease.
- May I show you a diagram that illustrates the ideal weight for Bella?
- Your pet falls into this BCS (show them on the chart).
- There are several health issues that can arise in pets because of excess weight. For example, arthritis can be aggravated or diabetes can develop.
- Assess client’s readiness to change.
- Would you be willing to discuss a weight management program for Bella?
- What are your thoughts about making changes to improve Bella’s weight?
- We can help you devise a weight management plan that is practical for you and your family when you are interested and ready.
- Provide support and encouragement
- We know you love Bella very much.
- Weight loss programs can present some challenges, and we are here to help you through those.
Assessing readiness to change
Is your client ready to take on a weight loss program for his or her pet? Enhance the chances for success with these tips:
- Establish trust by using active listening skills and showing concern for the client and his or her pet.
- Use a collaborative approach to determine the client’s state of awareness about his or her pet’s weight and its health consequences.
- Ask questions to determine whether the client needs time to consider the information or is ready to take action to begin a weight loss program.
- Give clients time to think, but be aware that “thinking about it” may signal inability or unwillingness to follow your recommendation.
- Ask open-ended questions to elicit clients’ concerns about weight management.
- Schedule a subsequent visit to discuss weight management, encouraging other family members to attend.
Negotiating a mutual plan of action for changing feeding practices*
- Obtain the client’s beliefs and understanding about how their pet should be fed.
- Obtain the client’s viewpoint regarding the need to change feeding practices (e.g., perceived benefits, barriers, motivation to changing practices).
- Take into consideration the client’s beliefs, cultural background, lifestyle and abilities when formulating your plan for dietary modification.
- Elicit the client’s reactions and concerns about the proposed dietary modifications.
Managing the process
- Prepare the client for the process.
- Explain what to expect for weight loss over time.
- Discuss hurdles that may arise and your partnership in tackling those hurdles.
- Provide client resources, such as an exercise or calorie tracking diary.
- Provide empathy and positive reinforcement.
- Explore client’s feelings/beliefs about the program.
- Give permission to fumble/fail with no judgments attached.
- Explain your willingness to change benchmarks if needed, and that weight management programs will be adapted to the client’s and pet’s individual needs (i.e., there is no “onesize- fits-all” approach).
Source: Churchill J. Increase the success of weight loss programs by creating an environment for change. Compend Cont Educ Vet2010;32(12): E1–4. Used with permission.
*Adapted from the Calgary-Cambridge Guides; Kurtz S, Silverman J, Draper J. Teaching and learning communication skills in medicine. 2nd ed. Oxford (UK): Radcliffe Publishing ; 2005; and Silverman J, Kurtz S, Draper J. Skills for communicating with clients. 2nd ed. Oxford (UK): Radcliffe Publishing; 2005. Used with permission.