Friday, February 27, 2015

How To Be A Successful Health Fair Volunteer

By Guest Blogger: Kathleen Ashton, Ph.D.

□ Be prepared!

o Have your handouts, giveaways, and sign ready to go for the day of the fair.

o Consider bringing materials in a rolling bag: you don’t know how far you might need to walk.

o Arrive on time if not early to set up.

o Bring snacks/water if they are not provided for you.

o Wear comfortable shoes—you may be standing a lot or have to walk far.

o Bring a camera to record your efforts for news releases.

o Wear branded clothing or dress professionally yet comfortably

□ Be approachable!

o Smile and make eye contact with passerbys

o Stand up and/or get out from behind the table (if you’re sitting talking to other volunteers no one will approach you).

o Initiate conversation: ask questions such as “Feeling stressed? Need help coping with stress? Do you have stress in your life?”

o Use giveaways as conversation starters: “Want a free stress magnet? Let me give you some information on how to cope with stress.”

□ Stay on message

o Remember, your role is communicate the value of psychologists: “Here is some information that tells you how psychologists can help you with this health problem, stress, etc.”

o “I thought psychologists were just for crazy people”: “Psychologists help everyday people with any type of behavior change—like managing stressful events, health issues, etc.”

o “Psychologists are the experts in behavior change” “Psychologists are experts in stress management”: Own our expertise!!!

o Hand people you are talking to information: they won’t necessarily take for themselves: don’t be shy—it’s free!

□ Remember ethical principles

o Your role is provide education and information, not to treat participants

o If participants bring up personal issues, this is an opportunity to share how a psychologist might help and provide referral resources

o Always provide a variety of referrals (i.e., not one referral to your own office)

o If you are a psychology student, have a psychologist on hand for consultation in person or by phone. You are not alone!

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Kathleen Ashton, PhD, is a Psychologist in the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. She received her doctorate from The Ohio State University, and she completed specialty training in health psychology at the Cleveland VA Medical Center and Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Ashton’s clinical and research interests include bariatric surgery evaluation and treatment, binge eating disorder treatment, and behavioral weight management. She has presented extensively on the psychological treatment of obesity and psychological aspects of bariatric surgery, including at the American Society of Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery and the International Conference on Eating Disorders.