Very Brief FIT

WHAT IF YOU ONLY HAVE 5 OR 10 MINUTES WITH EACH CLIENT?

Simply giving the client information and advice risks wasting those precious minutes if you do not also motivate them to act on the advice.

Key elements of FIT that can make the best use of your limited time together are:

  1. Being empathic: ask the client what they would like to do (if necessary, give them a selection of options), rather than telling them what you think is best for them.
  2. Highlighting emotion: ask them how it would feel to succeed.
  3. Asking them what steps they need to take to get started, and talking them through creating a multi-sensory image of taking those steps and feeling the benefits.
  4. Checking if they noticed anything that might stop them being able to do that and address any concerns by eliciting the client’s own ideas from past successes.
  5. Repeating the imagery exercise using the client’s ideas for strategies to overcome obstacles.
  6. Encouraging the client to rehearse their image every time they do a routine behaviour like climbing stairs, washing their hands, or making a cup of tea.
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Example

Hygienist: Can I ask how often you floss your teeth?

Patient: I do it sometimes, but probably not as often as I should

Hygienist: That’s good that you do it. How do you feel about doing it regularly?

Patient: It’s boring, but I suppose it would be good to know I was looking after my teeth.

Hygienist: Imagining your daily routine for a moment, how will you remember to do it?

Patient: I could put the floss next to my toothbrush, so I see it when I brush my teeth.

Hygienist: That’s a good idea. What do you need to do to get started, to make sure that happens?

Patient: I don’t think I have any floss actually, so I’ll buy some from reception when I leave and take it straight to the bathroom when I get home.

Hygienist: Great. Would it be okay if I ask you to spend a minute imagining doing that?

Patient: Yes

Hygienist: Imagine you are in the reception area, picking up a pack of floss from the display…imagine how it feels in your hand…you pay the receptionist… imagine what you do next with the floss… what you do when you get home. Make it as real and vivid as possible. Imagine going to brush your teeth and seeing the floss. You pick it up and floss your teeth. Imagine how it feels to do that… how it feels afterwards, when your teeth are really clean… How was that?

Patient: Fine. I can do it easily.

Hygienist: Did you notice anything that might stop you?

Patient: No, my toothbrush will remind me if the floss is right there.

Hygienist: Mental imagery can be a powerful reminder. Do you think you could replay that image each time you visit the bathroom, so you remember to do it, just until you’ve got into the habit of flossing each day?