Video: Examining Positive Behavior Change


We sat down with Dr. Catherine Bass, Jerry Painter, and Dr. David Schlundt, to examine positive behavior change and what causes individuals to be ready to make a positive lifestyle or behavior change.



Want to dive deeper into this Well-Being Experts video? Here's the full transcript from our discussion on behavior change with Dr. Catherine Bass, Jerry Painter, and Dr. David Schlundt.


Catherine: You have to really have a combination of things going on for someone to actually want to change, and feel ready to do that.

Jerry: If it's involving a health risk, maybe I'll be willing to change. Maybe if it's a spouse or partner's health risk, maybe I'm willing to change as well. Maybe my best friend has cancer, and I've seen their lifestyle and I want to change, because I don't want to live that lifestyle and risk cancer as well.

David: Well, the readiness to change and its impact on long term behavior change, it's a whole different set of problems and skills involved in getting somebody to initiate a change, versus maintaining that change over a long period of time. So, if I say, "Are you ready to start exercising?" and you say, "No way am I going to exercise," I'm not going to push that on you. I'm going to help you think about your life, and think about how you're feeling, and how you're doing. And really come up with an understanding of what the benefits would be, if you even made small changes in that.

Now, once you're being active, it takes a different kind of support. It takes helping you identify what those barriers are - is it the competing priorities, is it the lack of social support? Can we help you come up with some problem-solving strategies to address those? The initiation and the maintenance are really very, very different problems. That's the value of the stages of change model.

Catherine: The level of people being willing to change, is really a very individual thing. It differs for everybody, because it's very related to everything that's going on in your life.

Jerry: We find there are a lot of factors that require a person to change, and their readiness to change. One factor can be a personal illness that requires them to need medical help. Through that, they realize that if they make lifestyle changes, they can  also embellish the change. It could be a good friend, it could be a family member, it could be someone they know who's gone through a health issue. Finally it clicks with them that, "Hey, if I continue living the lifestyle like they live, then I may be prone to that disease as well."

Catherine: If you've got somebody who's at risk for diabetes, but they don't believe that it's important, or they don't believe the impact that's going to have on their lives, that person's not going to be ready to change. We're talking about the health belief model, there's three major tenets of that - perceived severity, perceived susceptibility, and perceived benefits. The individual has to believe they're actually at risk for getting the disease, or developing a chronic condition. If they don't believe that, they're not going to be ready to change.

David: Coaches in the industries are really coming to realize that you've got to personalize and individualize this. You've got to talk to the person, you've got to discover what are your individual barriers, and how can you come up with a plan to help you overcome those, even if it just means making a very small change to start with.