30 Powerful Questions a Nurse Coach can ask to Spark Change

As Integrative Nurse Coaches, we are often seeking to spark change in our clients, so it’s a good practice to have some questions in your back pocket when your client begins to use ‘change talk’ language.

Change Talk is any talk that makes the case for change, or for not staying the same. Resistance Talk is also important to recognize here, which is any talk that argues against the case for change, or for staying the same. I’ll not write much about resistance talk, however, it’s great to know that there’s an opposite to change talk to consider too, especially in those conversations where you are emphatically listening.


Many clients decide to partner with an Integrative Nurse Coach because they want to achieve something, which often requires a shift in behavior, or a change. Some clients, want education about a topic, ideas to help them reach a goal, or a pattern shift. And some simply want a safe space to be heard and recognized, and Integrative Nurse Coaches are the experts at that!

When clients begin talking about why change is or isn’t important in their unique voice, it helps them see that change may be possible. When Integrative Nurse Coaches combine the skills of empathetic listening with open ended questioning and reflection, it opens the possibility for them to adjust.

How do We Encourage Change Talk with Powerful Questions?

So how do we encourage Change Talk in an Integrative Nurse Coach® Session?

We know that helping clients to make their own arguments for change has been shown to be most effective in helping them shift. When clients have a safe space to express their story, while feeling no judgement or set opinion from you as their Integrative Nurse Coach, they can see the possibilities all around them, and you can witness them too!  And we need to know how to catch change talk when it shows up!

Examples of Change Talk

Here are some examples of change talk you might hear.

  • “I know it won’t be easy, but something has got to change. I don’t want to be on insulin and have all those problems that my mom had with her diabetes.”
  • “I want to be able to look in the mirror every day and feel good about what I see. “
  • “I am feeling like something has to shift. But I’m not sure what.”
  • “I’m spending way too much on these cigarettes, and I’ll be a grandma soon!”
  • “I feel like I’m willing, because I showed up here to talk to you.”
  • “It’s important for me to reduce my stress.”
  • “I read about how toxins are in my home, and I want to learn more.”
  • “My wife sent me here, and since I’m here, I’ll give it a try.”
  • “I’ve tried meditating, and I’d like to explore something different.”

Here are some examples of Coaching Questions you could consider using when you hear them speak towards a change.

1. Ask Evocative Questions

Ask Evocative Questions in Open-ended Style
Open ended questions allow for elaboration and sharing.


  • What makes you want to make this change?
  • How would you like for things to be different?
  • What do you think you might be able to shift or change?
  • How might you go about it?
  • What are three best reasons (or advantages) for you to make a change?
  • What do you think has to be changed?
  • How important is it for you to make this change?
  • What do you think you’ll do?
  • What will happen if you remain the same?

2. Ask for Elaboration

When a change talk theme emerges, ask for more details:

  • Tell me about ways you see yourself doing that?
  • How do you see this happening?
  • What will you need to help you make this adjustment?

3. Ask for Examples

When change talk themes emerge ask for specific examples:

  • What happened the last time this happened?
  • Describe a specific example of when this happens.
  • Tell me more.

4. Look Back

It’s fascinating to use past experiences to support present ones:

  • How have things been better in the past?
  • What past events can you recall when things were different?
  • What have you changed in the past that you can relate to the change you’d like to make now?

5. Look Forward

It’s exciting to explore the future and co-create possibilities:

  • What might happen if things continue as they are?
  • If you were 100% successful in shifting, what would it look like?
  • How would you like your life to be in the future?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and imagine it was 6 months from now, how would you life be different?
  • What are the benefits of you changing?

6. Explore Extremes

Explore Extremes, or Best/Worst case scenarios:

  • What are the worst things that might happen if you stay the same?
  • What are the best things that might happen if you make this change?

7. Use Change Rulers

Scoring rulers help clients to think out loud about their readiness, willingness, and ability to change. They help you gain a better understanding too.

  • On a scale where one is not at all important and 10 is extremely important to you, how important is it for you to change____________?
  • Please explain why you chose _________ and not __________ (lower number)
  • What needs to happen to move you from ____________ to ___________ (higher number)
  • Rate how committed you are to ____________?
  • Score your confidence that you could ______________?

Shifting behavior can be very challenging and there are so many factors that come in to play. Understanding and picking up on change talk will help your clients become and stay more motivated to keep exploring their health and wellbeing.  You got this, Nurse Coach!

Nurse Coach Nicole xo

+ posts

After two decades as an Intensive Care Nurse caring for the sickest of patients, Nicole left the one-size fits all healthcare industry, and created Blue Monarch Health, where she is; Active Aging Specialist, Health Protection Expert and Head Motivator! Instead of waiting for you to get sick, she meets you where you live, work and play, to enhance your health and vitality.
Nicole listens deeply, and takes you by the hand to co-create a health and vitality plan with you, so you can really do it in your life. She is an authentic, heart-centered stick of dynamite, who focuses your energies, builds up your strengths, and leverages your unique gifts!
Nicole Vienneau achieved a Master’s in Nursing Science from the University of Arizona, a board certification in Integrative Nurse Coaching from the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation, and is Senior Faculty with the Integrative Nurse Coach® Academy. She is a Functional Aging Specialist, personal trainer, yoga teacher, and group fitness instructor and a retired Reebok-sponsored Fitness Athlete.  When she’s not coaching clients or writing blogs, or hosting the Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! Podcast, you can find her teaching active older adult fitness classes, volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association, lounging in the sun with her cat babies, or on a hike with her awesome husband.
Email Nicole

Share with your networks

Recent Articles