Tips for inspiring change 

Healthcare providers can inspire change among their patients using the following tips.

Connect to the patient’s why. “Often this is very different than the best statistic you can find to justify the change. Put them in a state of mind where they feel connected to what matters to them, and you’ll be able to inspire change,” McGonigal said.

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Acknowledge what is hard and what is possible. “Don’t dismiss how overwhelming the process of change can be.”

Offer caring, accountability, and hope. “An increased sense of hope, meaning and purpose, can help change self image and increase motivation.”

Encourage patients to tap into a bigger-than-self purpose. “Connecting to values will change the way they receive an intervention.” 

Demonstrate healthy changes in your own life. “When you commit to difficult changes it increases your ability to empathize, your credibility, and your ability to inspire change in others.”

Healthcare providers can sneak interventions into any patient encounter using the Brief Action Planning motivational interviewing technique, according to McGonigal. “Start by asking if there is anything they would like to do for their health in the next week or two.”

Then ask how sure patients are that they will be able to carry out the plan, and if they’d like to check in about how things are going. If they say, “No,” ask if there is anyone in their life who may be interested in doing it with them, she advised. 

“To create sustainable, long-lasting change, we need to elevate people from being victims into being role models, healers, and helpers,” McGonigal said.


  1. McGonigal K. General Session. Presented at: AAPA 2015. May 23-27, 2015. San Francisco, California.