I just competed the second part of the AFPA Nutrition and Wellness Counselor certificate program. I discussed the first part of the program: my likes, dislikes, and learnings in an earlier post, so please read that first. Ok, great, now we are all on the same page.

The first part of the program used the Personal Nutrition textbook which was scientific in nature; a focus on anatomy plus food. The material is similar in what you would probably study in an Intro course for an R.D.  Even as someone who is knowledgeable about leading a healthy lifestyle,  I learned a lot of new information. The second part of the course focuses on developing counseling skills.

The major sections in the Basic Nutrition Counseling Skills Development textbook are:

  • Preparing to meet your client
  • Building a relationship with your client
  • Developing a nutrition care plan
  • How to promote change to facilitate self-management and making the behavior change last
  • Role of counselor in physical activity
  • Professionalism and closing out a relationship and evaluation for client and counselor

In total, there are 9 chapters (I combined topics above). Each chapter took  about 2 to 3 hours to read through and about 30 minutes to answer the short answer questions that followed the chapter.

I can’t say that I enjoyed this learning…which probably lets me know that I am not particularly interested or adept at being a counselor. I am currently a communications consultant for a living so reading about communication effectiveness and how to talk to people is a bit of a bore.  Additionally, many of my communication projects integrate change management methodology so about 65% of the information in this textbook was at a lower level than my current knowledge.

There were a few components that I did enjoy, specifically the plan/menu design, how to avoid cognitive pitfalls and physical activity benefits. Many publications talk about the things that make “diets” fail so its interesting to read about how as a counselor you would be able to help clients manipulate environments to avoid those pitfalls. I don’t think the AFPA would appreciate me giving away all their secrets so I’ll leave it at that.

Overall, I think someone who was interested in working with clients, would enjoy reading this material more than I did. But, its good to realize that while I am passionate about helping people to eat better, it will ultimately not be in the role of a counselor/client one-on-one relationship.

The next step of the program will be to complete the case study which takes me through the actual process of working with a client. I will need to complete this by December 1 so I’ll share my experience then. Now, I just need to find someone to participate as my case study client…