Assessments for Behavior Change

"Where do I start?"

This might be a common question you ask yourself when a client acknowledges trouble beginning and sticking with healthy behavior change. Although health coaches are not like mechanics who look at a sluggish engine and know which tools they'll need, there are specific skills that can be used to help clients make sustainable lifestyle changes. The purpose of this article is to help you fill your toolbox with practical behavior change strategies. To continue with the theme of beginning, this inaugural article will cover assessment tools from a behavioral perspective. My early training as a clinical social worker provided simple wisdom for helping foster change, that is, to start where the client is. We can discover this starting point through conducting a comprehensive assessment. Client assessments help identify the scope of the problem, potential barriers, and motivation for change. The information gained directs us to the most appropriate intervention setting and strategies, measurable anchors for goals, and methods to monitor accomplishments and evaluate effectiveness.

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This article is by Janet Buckworth, Ph.D., FACSM, who has spent more than 25 years studying exercise adherence and theory-based behavior change interventions. She has master's degrees in clinical social work and health education and a Ph.D. in exercise psychology, with work experiences in medical and college settings. Dr. Buckworth is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, serving on the Behavioral Strategies Special Interest Group. Dr. Buckworth is department head in Kinesiology at the University of Georgia.

The author declares no conflict of interest and does not have any financial disclosures.

Content reprinted from ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal®.