Finding a Good Diabetes Educator

Who listens to you?

Have you ever thought to step back and evaluate your diabetes educator? Since diabetes is a chronic condition it is likely that you will interact with more than one diabetes educator during your course of management.  Who stands out and why?

One of the hallmarks of an effective diabetes educator is one who can help you identify any ambivalence you have within your diabetes experience, help you verbalize both sides of the coin and define an acceptable resolution that triggers you to make a behavioral change.  A diabetes educator who can listen to you and reflect back to you your own desires or interests in change is actively listening to you.

At times it is helpful to call out ways educators can mean well but, in the end, don’t really help you. Some of these efforts include more confrontational approaches such as:

  • Persuading you that you have a problem and need to change
  • Offering you direct advice or prescribing solutions to the problem without your permission or without actively encouraging you to make your own choices
  • Using an authoritative/expert stance leaving you in a passive role
  • Doing most of the talking or delivering information in a one-way fashion
  • Imposing a diagnostic label
  • Behaving in a punitive or coercive manner

Keeping within the spirit of eliciting change, you may find the following educator behaviors to be helpful:

  • Seeking to understand your frame of reference
  • Expressing acceptance and affirmation
  • Eliciting and selectively reinforcing your own self motivational statements based on: 
    • what problems you recognize
    • what concerns you have
    • your desire and intention to change
    • your ability to change
  • Being careful not to foster resistance by rushing your readiness to change
  • Affirming your freedom of choice and self-direction

Relationships with your diabetes care team members are important to foster. As you live with diabetes, you may not need all members of your team at all times.  But, when it comes to making changes to live a healthier and less stressful life, the relationship with your educator can be one that holds the test of time and helps the most in terms of just living with diabetes.

Be selective and seek out diabetes educators that listen to you.  Look beyond common courtesies of being timely, efficient and pleasant.  Find someone that helps you articulate your intrinsic values and goals for behavior change.

By: Gwen Wright RD, CDE

Reference:
http://www.motivationalinterview.net/clinical/whatismi.html accessed 15 July 2016.