Staying Healthy Through Education and Prevention (STEP)

Coaching Session 2: Being an Effective Group Member and Motivation for Behavior Change


This session involves a discussion of several topics (reasons for program participation, motivation, and group name/rules), provides participants with a foundation for effective group membership, and asks participants to verbalize their reasons for participating in the STEP program. This session also provides an opportunity for the group leader to emphasize the importance of motivation in helping to change behavior. Finally, this session provides an (optional) opportunity for participants to name their group and to define rules for participating in the group.

During this session, you should review the content from Session 1, including the STEP program as a whole, the FITT principle, the RPE scale, and health concerns that participants should report to the staff if they arise. Repetition is never a bad thing, especially given how much information you presented in Session 1. These concepts are critical to safety and success in STEP, so make sure you take your time reviewing them with participants and answering questions. Feel free to reuse the Session 1 explanations when you review STEP, FITT, and RPE in Session 2.

Session 2 has a three-question Take-Home Challenge that participants should complete at home and plan to discuss during  Session 3.


  • Staff must be familiar with:
    • Content of Session 1.
    • Concepts related to motivation and behavior change, as they relate to STEP (review Chapter 8 coaching skills).
    • The three questions on the Session 2 Take-Home Challenge (STEP benefits, participants' main motivations, and how staff can help).
  • Print/copy the Session 2 Take-Home Challenge for each participant.

Session Objectives

Participants will:

  • Review the content of Session 1.
  • Discuss group guidelines and how to be an effective group member.
  • Discuss the importance of motivation in changing behavior.
  • Determine if the group wants to establish a name (optional).

Session Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. Why Participants Joined STEP
  3. Purpose of the STEP Program
  4. Overview of the Organization of a Typical Group Session
  5. Group Guidelines/Creating a Positive Environment
  6. Group Name (optional)
  7. Three-Question Take-Home Challenge
  8. Questions and Wrap-Up

Session Content and Sample Scripts

I. Introduction

  • STEP program leader offers greeting to group.
  • Group members introduce themselves, facilitated by STEP program leader.

II. Why Participants Joined STEP

  • Facilitate a discussion regarding the reasons participants joined the program.


One of the most important motivational factors in becoming a more physically active person is understanding WHY you want to make positive, healthy changes in your life. Beginning with the end goal in mind, why do you want to change your lifestyle? What is motivating you? Remember, there are many reasons people decide to become and stay active. What's important is that you know and believe in your own motivations for making these changes.

III. Purpose of the STEP Program

  • Review the content of behavior coaching Session 1.
  • Reiterate the purpose of the STEP program.


The purpose of the STEP program is to foster excitement about physical activity and to progressively increase your confidence in your ability to resume or begin a physically active lifestyle. We will learn important skills to make this happen, with an ultimate goal of reducing your risk of disability. As you progress through STEP, you will identify what is important to you from a lifestyle perspective and health perspective (How active do you want to be?) and use these ideas to set your own physical activity goals. Staying aware of these values will help motivate you as you work to maintain your behavior changes.

IV. Overview of the Organization of a Typical Behavior Session

Give STEP participants a brief summary of what they can expect in a typical STEP class. Familiarizing participants with the session format is part of making them comfortable with and enthusiastic about class. If participants expect that every session will involve a discussion of the previous session, the homework, barriers, and motivational issues, they will come prepared to talk.

The standard session format is as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Review Take-Home Challenge from previous session
  • State objectives for current session
  • Interactively cover material
  • Review participants' progress
  • Questions and opportunities for problem solving
  • Summarize and end session
  • Review Take-Home Challenge handout to be discussed at next session

V. Group Guidelines/Creating a Positive Environment

  • Facilitate a discussion regarding group members' preferences about how the group should be run and what guidelines, if any, should apply to participation.
  • You may choose to establish a "buddy system": pair up participants (or ask them to choose partners) both for classes and for walking. STEP buddies will remind each other to attend class, help each other count repetitions and talk about/keep track of RPE during exercises, and encourage each other to keep up the good work. Walking buddies will keep each other motivated to walk outside of class. They can do this by making walking dates, checking in with each other about progress, etc. Remind participants that it's always helpful to have others rooting for you and keeping you accountable for your progress.


Participating in a behavior modification group can be very rewarding. Our goal is for you to feel comfortable discussing your goals and accomplishments, as well as barriers you encounter in becoming more physically active. Let's discuss any group rules or guidelines we want to establish to make sure you are able to talk openly about these things. Suggestions?

VI. Group Name (optional)

Having a group name can create a sense of fun, common cause, and community. Some program leaders have found great success with group names, while others found participants were not interested. This is entirely up to you and your group.

  • Discuss the idea of naming the group and determine whether the group wants to have a group name.
  • If the group wants a name, ask participants to brainstorm over the next week and come up with ideas for a group name that they'll vote on at the next session.

VII. Take-Home Challenge

  • Read the Take-Home Challenge and ask participants to write down their thoughts prior to the next group session.


In our first challenge for the group, let's think about why you want to make activity a regular part of your life. We touched on this topic earlier, but now I want you to think very specifically about your STEP participation and write down your ideas at home. We'll discuss your ideas at our next session. Now let's take a few minutes to look over this challenge.

  1. What are the benefits that you believe you can get from becoming more physically active?
  2. What are your main motivations for wanting to become more active? Why do you personally want to change?
  3. Over the next couple of months, we will teach you the skills you need to become more active. Initially, how can we help you in making these changes?

VIII. Questions and Wrap-Up

  • Provide a summary of material and concepts that you covered in the session and an opportunity for participants to ask questions and express concerns.
  • Remind them to complete their Take-Home Challenge and come ready to discuss it at your next class on: Date and Time: ___________________________
  • Let them know that Session 3 will be a discussion of Physical Limitations and Preventing Physical Decline.
Page last reviewed October 2014
Page originally created February 2011
Internet Citation: Coaching Session 2: Being an Effective Group Member and Motivation for Behavior Change. Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.