Behavioral Health in Diabetes Care



This is a 7-module online learning program, includes a discussion forum once program is complete. 


Target Audience:

•Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (CDCES)/Master/Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES)
•Social Workers with experience working with people with diabetes
•Other members of the diabetes care team


CE Credit:

5.25 credit hours. 

To enhance the whole person approach to diabetes care by increasing knowledge of diabetes care interventions and integrating behavioral health best practices into different clinical environments.


Modules and Learning Objectives

By the end of the program, learners should be able to accomplish the objectives below.


Module 1: Engaging the Whole Person in Diabetes Care

  • Define behavioral health in diabetes care.
  • Explain the relationship between physical and behavioral health.
  • Describe the role members of the health care team play in addressing physical and emotional health of people with diabetes.
  • Explain clinician challenges that can impact engaging the whole person. 
  • Describe social and cultural barriers to diabetes self-care.
  • Incorporate strengths persons with diabetes bring in meeting the challenges of diabetes management into routine diabetes care.

    Module 3: Effective Communication in Diabetes Care

  • Use person-centered and strengths-based health communication strategies and approaches to engage the whole person 
  • Identify verbal and nonverbal cues and behaviors that indicate possible behavioral health challenges and strategies to have difficult conversations.
  • Incorporate problem-solving, goal setting and prioritizing in diabetes care to help people with diabetes cope with changes and behavioral health challenges.
  • Assess readiness for change and use motivational interviewing skills to engage the whole person along the continuum.

Module 5: Anxiety, Depression and Diabetes Distress in People with Diabetes

  • Define the diabetes distress, clinical depression and anxiety disorders and describe the differences among them and their effects on diabetes outcomes.
  • Implement screening tools to identify persons with depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms and/or diabetes distress. 
  • Describe sources of diabetes distress e.g., fear of hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, needle phobia, fertility and parenting concerns and fear of future complications.
  • Summarize effective and feasible strategies to address emotional distress within routine care visits.

Module 7: Community Engagement and Behavioral Health Support 

  • Identify external barriers to referral and behavioral health treatment in diabetes care.
  • Describe approaches to address referral and treatment barriers.
  • Implement best practices related to coordination of behavioral health care.
  • Use networking and advocacy skills to establish professional community alliances for behavioral health referral and support.
  • Summarize how to establish peer support interventions or connect to existing resources and interventions.

Module 2:  An Overview of Behavioral Health in Diabetes Care

  • Describe the continuum of psychosocial challenges and behavioral health issues in people with diabetes. 
  • Explain the impact of significant life events and diabetes transitions that trigger behavioral health challenges. 
  • Describe the daily impact of diabetes management on physical and emotional health and wellbeing in people with diabetes.
  • Describe psychological barriers to regimen changes and use of new technologies in persons with diabetes and health care professionals.
  • Explain the impact that diagnosable mental illness may have on diabetes self-care and health outcomes.

Module 4: Healthy Eating and Behavioral Health in Diabetes

  • Describe how diverse cultural backgrounds affect the relationship between diet and diabetes, including weight stigma. 
  • Identify eating problems that are common in people with diabetes and their impact on self-care and outcomes.
  • Differentiate between disordered eating, healthy eating and adaptive monitoring of carbohydrates to achieve glycemic targets. 
  • Use screening tools and clinical judgment to identify persons with eating patterns that are potentially clinically significant.
  • Identify ways to open a discussion with a person with suspected disordered eating behaviors or eating disorders.

Module 6: Screening, Referral and Behavioral Interventions 

  • Interpret the results of screening and assessment tools to identify behavioral health challenges and possible emotional disorders.
  • Provide examples of when and how to make a behavioral health referral in different clinical settings.
  • Describe approaches to support behavior change diet, exercise, medication-taking and address barriers to behavior change health literacy and numeracy.
  • Implement behavioral interventions to care for nonclinical symptoms/behaviors in routine care.


This program is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

American Diabetes Association 2451 Crystal Drive, Suite 900, Arlington, VA 22202 1-800-DIABETES
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