The ASA Cycle
What is the ASA Cycle?
The ASA cycle is a person-centered communication tool. It builds rapport to grow trust between providers and patients. The ASA cycle helps providers center clients in the conversation, provide relevant information in a way that is digestible, and assist patients to integrate information. Use the ASA cycle repeatedly throughout a visit.
When someone asks a question or shares something with a provider, before responding with information, the provider should first affirm or acknowledge what that person said. This does not have to be a long sentiment, but by first validating that person's experience, you are treating people as people and not just as patients.
Empathy is caring about others feelings and experiences. This is integral to person-centered care. When showing empathy try using phrases that show you are trying to understand how someone feels like "Wow, that must have been difficult" instead of underplaying, falsely labeling their emotion, or already claiming to understand it.
Pointing Out Strengths/Positives
Most people are making efforts to improve their lives. One useful acknowledge skill is to acknowledge their own independent health efforts before providing information or possible corrections. This can look like, “I’m impressed that even with all of those challenges, you’ve been using a condom most of the time".
Validation can be used in conversations to let the person you are talking to know you understand where they are coming from. Using phrases like, "I here that all the time" lets the person know they are being reasonable and heard.
Body language can convey a lot during a conversation. Things like maintaining eye contact, sitting at the same level, keeping a respectful distance, and nodding along convey attentiveness and care.
Instead of outright disagreeing or correcting people, try finding a part of what they said that you do agree with, identifying it and then going from there. This way people don't feel shut down and will be more receptive to new helpful information.
To make informed choices, patients need to have relevant, correct information about their options. This involves patient education during which patients obtain new relevant information that they will use when making decisions. For this process to be successful, the patient needs to have the new information integrated into their knowledge base.
Building Blocks of Learning
Learning requires integrating new information into an already present understanding of the world. This Integration requires that the person has:
heard the information (not always easy if they are distracted or anxious)
understood the information--which requires it to have been delivered in a language they speak, using terms they know
remembered the information
processed the information in order to recall it when needed