Information for Healthcare Professionals


  • Are there occasions when you seem to be working harder than your patients at improving their health?
  • Do you feel frustrated when a patient appears unmotivated to act upon your sound advice?

As a Certified Health Coach, I can help you help your patients struggling with obesity, dyslipidemia, diabetes, and other lifestyle related illnesses.  My health coaching practice employs evidence-based strategies to motivate patients toward healthy behavior changes, especially weight management.

Rather than recommending predetermined diets or exercise regimens, I guide and support patients in a non-judgmental environment to address problematic thoughts and behaviors.  Collaboratively, I address patients’ feelings of ambivalence, building a sense of competence and facilitating realistic and long-lasting solutions for healthy eating and exercise.

Please contact me to explore how I could help you improve your patients’ health.

While I’d be happy to speak with you by phone, a personal visit to your Central New Jersey office is the best way for me to demonstrate how I can help you communicate with patients who would achieve better health as a result of behavior modification.

Here are the two best ways to meet:

  1. A brief consultation directly with the doctor or doctors in the group.
  2. A staff wide lunch or after hours meeting.

FAQ for healthcare professionals:

How is coaching different from traditional patient education? The traditional approach to patient education is one that directs information at the patient. Typically, the patient is supposed to follow the sound advice prescribed by the healthcare professional. In certain situations, this can be highly effective.  This approach is less effective, however, when the patient exhibits ambivalence, lack of confidence, or limited intrinsic motivation to make behavior changes.

In the coaching setting, the client directs the process.  The coach uses a guiding style to focus on the beliefs, values, and concerns of the client in order to facilitate and support behavior change.

Ultimately, when it comes to behavior change that leads to weight loss, it is always better to help the client arrive at his or her own solution. 

What are your credentials? I have a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in Biology from Bryn Mawr College and a master’s degree in Adult Education from Rutgers University.  I am certified as a Health Coach through the American Council on Exercise.  In order to maintain my certification I must earn continuing education credits on an annual basis.  I also regularly attend workshops and conferences on topics such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

Is there evidence for the efficacy of health coaching?  Yes. The positive effects of coaching have been studied in a number of lifestyle related illness, including: type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and nicotine dependence. Studies have shown health coaching to be effective in helping patients with medication adherence, reduction in LDL cholesterol, weight loss, increased exercise, and improvement in overall health and mood.

  • Huffman, M. (2011). Evidence-based Health Coaching. The Remington Report, 19(5), 30-33
  • Huffman, M. (2010) Health Coaching: A Fresh Approach for Improving Health Outcomes and Reducing Costs. American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Journal, 58(6), 245-250.
  • Merrill, RM; Aldana, SG; Bowden, DE (2010 Mar-Jun). “Employee weight management through health coaching.” Eating and weight disorders : EWD 15 (1-2): e52–9.
  • Terry, Paul E.; Seaverson, Erin LD; Staufacker, Michael J.; Tanaka, Akiko (1 June 2011). “The Effectiveness of a Telephone-Based Tobacco Cessation Program Offered as Part of a Worksite Health Promotion Program”. Population Health Management 14 (3): 117–125.
  • Vale, Margarite J. (8 December 2003). “Coaching patients On Achieving Cardiovascular Health (COACH) A Multicenter Randomized Trial in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease”. Archives of Internal Medicine 163 (22): 2775.
  • Wolever, R. Q.; Dreusicke, M.; Fikkan, J.; Hawkins, T. V.; Yeung, S.; Wakefield, J.; Duda, L.; Flowers, P.; Cook, C.; Skinner, E. (9 June 2010). “Integrative Health Coaching for Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Clinical Trial”. The Diabetes Educator 36 (4): 629–639

How is a Health Coach different from a Registered Dietician?  Briefly, a registered dietician (RD) is licensed to create specific meal plans and recommend detailed calorie levels or nutrient goals.  I can and do work in partnership with RDs, a well as other allied healthcare professionals. As a health coach, my area of focus and specialty is weight management and wellness.

I have 2 types of clients in my practice:

  1. Individuals wishing to lose weight and improve their overall wellness.
  2. Medical professionals seeking help in communicating with their patients in the area of behavior change.

The key to my success is helping individuals increase their motivation, and training doctors to elicit motivation for change in their patients.  I am grounded in evidenced-based strategies while also offering compassion, non-judgment, superior communication skills and an emphasis on active listening and rapport building.


Are you looking to do some reading on how you can use coaching in your clinical practice? Try these resources:

Botelho, R. (2004). Motivational practice: Promoting healthy habits and self-care for chronic disease. Rochester, NY: MHH Publications.

Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2002). Motivational interviewing: Preparing people for change. New York: Guilford Press.

Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2008). Motivational Interviewing in Health Care. New York: Guilford Press.

Moore, M. & Tschannen-Moran, B. (2009) Coaching Psychology Manual. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Are you searching for practical communication strategies that will help you discuss behavior change with your patients?  If you find yourself frustrated and in need of a fresh approach, try any of these tips:

  • Resist the urge to fix behaviors
  • Understand and explore the patient’s motivations for change
  • Get permission before giving advice
  • Ask open ended questions
  • Back off and explore ambivalence to change
  • Ask patients for their ideas about change
  • Summarize ideas for change and gently ask for action
  • Offer hope and optimism for healthy outcomes

If you hear patients talking more about behavior change then you know you are doing it right!