• Fresh Views

    NO JUDGEMENT: Today’s words to jump-start solution-focused practice

    Pumpkin Mania at Transylvania University

    Often people who criticize your life are the same people that don’t know the price you paid to get where you are today. – Shannon Alder

    Halloween is just around the corner! Pumpkin Mania at Transylvania University in Lexington, KY (pictured above) always gets Tami in the holiday spirit and ready to see all of the costumes and trick or treaters on Halloween night. (That’s something we both will miss thanks to the pandemic). Halloween doesn’t have to be all tricks and no treats though for those living with diabetes. Many clients with diabetes have shared over the years the “judgement” they have felt and received from others when choosing to enjoy a small Halloween sweet treat or two. Having heard that again just recently, it prompted us to focus on “No Judgement” in this post. 


    Stigma and “judgement” are common around diabetes, and can contribute to stress and feeling shame. Receiving negative and blameful comments and judgement, whether through “a look” or through words, has an impact on motivation and behavior. Each member of the healthcare team can play an important role in serving people with diabetes by taking a respectful and inclusive approach. Clients may not even remember all you said to them in the encounter, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel – if you made them feel good or feel bad, if you made them feel valuable or invaluable, That’s where listening and replying  without judgement comes in. What we say and how we say it matters. 

    In fact one respondent’s comment from a #DSMA Twitter Chat we hosted on World Diabetes Day a couple years back has stuck with us: “Success would look like people realizing what diabetes is and we can stop with these assumptions and jokes about diabetes.” So powerful. (By the way, you may want to read more about insights we gained, published this month in The Diabetes Educator journal: “Applying a Solution-Focused Approach to Life With Diabetes: Insights Gleaned via Twitter ” Volume 46, Issue 5 of The Diabetes Educator.  We’re super excited to have these findings published!)

    Putting “no judgement” with a solution-focused approach into practice
    On the topic of Halloween, Tami recalls a client with diabetes she worked with a few years back that absolutely adored Halloween candy, particularly the fun-size chocolate bars. This individual was struggling with trying to manage her carbs, “stay strong”, and “resist” the treats she encountered every time she stepped into the grocery store. And then there were the “after Halloween” sales to navigate when all the treats were 50% off!  She shared that she had learned if she bought 1 bag and kept it out of sight, rather than in a bowl on the counter where she would be reminded of the chocolates, she wasn’t as tempted, but still found herself reaching for the bag more often than she desired. How would you approach this conversation applying solution-focused principles? Tami, acting as her “think partner” spent some time talking with her – no judgement – acknowledging the positive discovery she made and exploring how she could leverage that. Tami rephrased and included the clients own words, “How were you able to decide to keep the candy bag out of sight? What else can you do?” Building on that, the client decided that when she bought a bag of chocolates, she would put the bag in the freezer and only take out 1 or 2 chocolates at a time to help reduce her temptation further. She reported back that this was hugely helpful. Building on her discoveries and areas where she was having some success, helped to discover a new solution and achieve her goals to fit in a favorite Halloween sweet treat without compromising her blood glucose. 

    If you haven’t seen it yet, JDRF has an excellent easy-to-use Halloween Guide with tips on how to keep the holiday fun and safe, along with carbohydrate counts for popular Halloween candies. Helpful information for “kids of all ages”. 

    So whether you choose a low- or very-low carbohydrate eating approach without sweet treats in the mix, or you choose to fit in and enjoy an occasional sweet treat, we hope these real life examples illustrate how others have found success around managing holiday treats, and how to apply a think partner approach with clients in a “no judgement” way, to find solutions leveraging past successes. 

    EACH WEEK WE INVITE READERS TO PARTICIPATE IN A SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE… This week, we challenge you to strive to be mindful and consider how you may convey judgement in both words and actions in client interactions. Think about:

    1. The strength, courage, and time it takes for individuals to carry out their daily diabetes self-care.
    2. Using person-first, strengths-based language. (View a previous blog on language here.)
    3. Practicing cultural humility.

    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. 

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    Deb is an employee of Dexcom but all comments are her own.