• Fresh Views

    Diabetes Technology and Solution-Focused Practice: Applied to Mobile Apps

    “You`re only as weak as you let yourself become, and you`re only as strong as you allow yourself to be.”

    Daniel Hansen

    Beautiful bougainvillea, Palm Desert, CA

    In this week’s installment of Diabetes Technology and Solution-Focused Practice we’re discussing mobile apps. In our last blog we focused on using a solution-focused approach to interpreting and discussing continuous glucose monitor (CGM) data. This week’s blog we’ll focus on a new discovery for us – the WW mobile app. We will share insights on other apps in future blogs. We believe that using solution-focused language within mobile applications can improve user engagement with the app, as well as encourage individuals to make progress towards their health behavior goals.

    WW App: Deb’s experience…

    As you may know, Weight Watchers is now known as WW. I have been using their app, the WW app, to help  stay on track during the COVID-19 lockdown. You can learn about the different WW programs and pricing here. There are several options to choose from, I only use the app for logging and motivation.  I was encouraged to continue using the app because of the nature of the messaging. Then I began to wonder if they were incorporating a solution-focused approach? 

    From a weekly in-App push a few weeks ago, the headline was “Why you should do what works: You might already have more tools in your toolbox than you think.” If that doesn’t sound like solution-focused messaging, I’m not sure what does! The post reminds us that people typically focus on what isn’t working well and how to deal with challenges. Of course, that is not motivating, and not helpful when trying to make hard health behavior changes.

    But, what if you “Flip the switch” so to speak? (See our many blog posts from 2019 about “Flipping the paradigm” –  here’s one on healthy eating, and here’s one on healthy coping). The WW message goes on to encourage focusing on the things that come naturally and leverage strengths or what’s worked in the past! Wow! We’ve written about strengths in this blog multiple times (you can read about strengths here), and so believe in focusing on what one does well,  building confidence, and increasing happiness by doing so. 

    Make Strengths your Secret Weapon. According to WW, leveraging your strengths will help you be successful. They suggest asking 3 questions to uncover strengths:

    1. When do I feel like my best self?
    2. What makes me unique?
    3. What comes most naturally to me?

    Those are questions that diabetes care and education specialists (DCES) can easily incorporate into diabetes-related conversations with clients as well. Once those questions are answered, WW suggests creating an “affirmation” to help remember to focus on personal strengths. You can read their post here. One exercise that helps people think through writing their own affirmation includes showing a word cloud to help direct thinking about potential ideas of strengths (including humor, cleverness, bravery, creative etc.). What a powerful visual tool, that would be so easy to employ in any diabetes care and education program! Finally they suggest saying the affirmation out loud every morning or posting on your computer so it will be visible every day. For instance, “I am strong.” “I am resilient.” You get the idea

    I loved this way of thinking about making healthy choices, and reading and engaging with the content. I created my own affirmation and have it posted on my computer with a sticky note so I  glance at it multiple times during the day! Tami has affirmations on her desk and in the kitchen that she sees when making coffee in the morning to start the day off.

    Helping clients create their own affirmation using solution-focused principles is a great opportunity to highlight what is working well already and focusing on their strengths, as well as supporting the development of resilience. 

    Do you recommend mobile apps to your clients? 

    If you have a client interested in weight loss or adopting healthy eating habits, the WW mobile app might be a good option. (We are not endorsed by WW and do not receive any compensation from WW). Knowing the positive strength-based language that is being used is so encouraging. Also of note, WW recently hired Adam Kauffman, formerly of Canary Health,  to head their diabetes program (read the press release here) so we’re excited to see what’s to come in the future.

    We plan to continue to write about a variety of other technologies that impact and influence diabetes care and education including diabetes apps, digital health tools, diabetes devices, online peer support and online coaching. Stop back by in 2 weeks to see what’s up next!

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Deb is employed by Dexcom but her words and opinions in this blog are her own. Tami is employed by the University of Kentucky Barnstable Brown DIabetes Center, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.

  • Fresh Views

    Flipping the Paradigm: Applying a Solution-Focused Approach to Healthy Coping

    In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers. ~ Fred Rogers

    Getting some “beach therapy”

    Today we greet you from our first @AFreshPOVforYou writing retreat! “Writing Retreat”…those are BIG words that have been more than a year in our minds, and are now a reality as we sit across the table from each other drafting the content for our first book!  No small feat, but one we are excited about! We are passionate about taking a solution-focused approach to life with diabetes…so let your mind imagine just what this book may be about. We’ll share some sneak peeks as things move along.  

    Now back to our to our blog…

    Welcome to week 3 of our 7-week series on applying a solution-focused approach to the AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors for managing diabetes. This series is focusing on “flipping” the conversation from a “problem focused” (traditional medical) approach to a solution-focused conversation. Have you tried any “flips” in the past 2 weeks? Please let us know if you have, and what your experience was. 

    Last week we shared about taking a solution-focused approach to Being Active – you can read it here. And the week prior we focused on Healthy Eating here. Today we’re concentrating on Healthy Coping

    AADE7 Self Care Behavior #3: Healthy Coping

    It goes without saying that stress is a part of life…family stressors, work stressors, financial stressors, health-related stressors…at times it might seem like stress is all there is. Add to that the relentless demands of diabetes. The combination can bring a variety of coping challenges and ultimately impact self-care. On the flip side, there are many positive ways to deal with stress and cope with life with diabetes in a healthy manner. It’s all about having a tool-box of resources or tactics to pull out or call upon needed. Here are 6 ways that resonate with us to give you ideas:

    1. Move your body. It might be simply taking a walk. Physical activity lowers stress hormones and triggers the brain to release chemicals that make you feel better. (We’re finding that taking short walks to clear our minds is helping us to feel less stress and think more clearly during our writing effort).
    2. Take a break. It might be taking a walk on the beach or simply having a cup of coffee and listening to the waves hit the sand (as we were in the photo above…wishing we were there now!). Or you might enjoy curling up in a comfy chair and reading a book. Or standing and stretching, taking deep breaths inhaling and exhaling slowly.
    3. Use positive affirmations. When life is feeling especially challenging, we’ve found that practicing “daily affirmations” greatly helps us: I can do this. I am strong. Each moment brings choice. I will not hold onto bitterness.I can live an overflowing life. An affirmation is a short, positive statement that you say to yourself to build yourself up. Have you ever tried affirmations? The reality is that we believe what we tell ourselves and what we hear others say about us. Using affirmations can help to “rebuild” negative thinking and strengthen positive thoughts.When working with clients in a solution-focused way, we can  help them to create their own affirmations as one Healthy Coping mechanism.
    4. Get enough sleep. In our experience, many people discount the value of sleep. When chronically sleep deprived the stress response can be even greater. (yep, we’re getting our zzz’s this week!)
    5. Spend time with people that make you happy. Stress can cause some to turn inward and isolate themselves. Talking to others about your stressors and seeking their support is one way to de-stress. Maybe it’s getting together with a friend for lunch. Whenever we are together we have lots of fun and laughter. That is one way we cope with stress.  
    6. Practice gratitude. You can read more about this in a blog we wrote on gratitude here.  

    When working with clients instead of focusing on what is not working well or what is “wrong”, here are 3 illustrations of how to flip the conversation:

    Try this: How do you manage on the most challenging days with diabetes to keep moving forward?

    Instead of this:  Managing diabetes requires a lot of time and effort. It’s something you just have to do.

    Try this: On the nights you’ve been able to get to bed earlier and get more sleep, how were you able to do that? How did you feel the following morning?

     Instead of this: You mentioned you’re only getting 5 hours of sleep each night. You need to get to bed earlier. 

    Try this: Where is your stress level around ____ on a scale of 1-10? What would it take to reduce it 1 point? What do you need to accomplish that? How can I support you?

    Instead of this: You just need to stop thinking about this issue and move forward.

    Focus most of the time and energy on thinking about and discussing what is already good, effective, and successful then leverage that to identify solutions.

    When you meet again, here is a 3-step follow-up approach to try:

    Try to incorporate this approach with clients to reframe conversations and see if you can help them to focus on the exceptions (those times when the “problem” could have occurred but somehow did not) and their desired future state, rather than ruminating on what is not working.

    • Step 1 – Have you seen any improvements since we last met? (if yes, ask about it. If not, go to step 2)
    • Step 2 – Have you noticed times when the problem (defined using the clients own words) did not occur or happened less? (here you are identifying exceptions. If yes, ask about it. If no, go to step 3)
    • Step 3 – Describe for me what would be different if the problem had been solved? (this is the Miracle Question approach we’ve written about many times. Here and here are two of them)

    The solution-focused decision tree is adapted from Fredrike Bannik’s 1001 Solution-Focused Questions.

    We challenge you each week to try incorporating some flips into your conversations and let us know what impact they have.

    Join us next week as we discuss a solution focused-approach to Monitoring

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

    Disclaimer: A Fresh POV for You is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. 

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