Achieving better health and weight outcomes

Applying systems thinking and change processes to a multicomponent multidisciplinary approach

BRISBANE 31 March and 1 April 2017

There is a global pandemic of obesity.  In response, national and international obesity management guidelines have been distributed.   Isolated examples of success have been reported.  Yet no nation has provided real evidence of success in reversing its obesity epidemic.   Recommendations for multicomponent and multidisciplinary approaches have been made but strategies for implementing them are lacking.

Research by Anita Cochrane identified four metacomponents that need attention: patient, practitioner, process, and environmental factors, which interact.  Nested within each metacomponent are subcomponents.  Obesity is clearly a "messy", wicked problem, as are many other chronic health problems.  It is not surprising that linear models, such as "eating less and moving more", cannot cope with the level of complexity required to manage chronic health conditions like obesity.

For effective diagnosis and remediation, such complexity demands a very different approach.  We are offering a two-day workshop that will introduce you to approaches for managing "messy" problems.  The program will include topics such as systems thinking, co-design, and flexible change processes.  For deeper learning, experiential methods will be used.

Our intention is that attendees will learn:

  • Strategies for starting well on the client-practitioner journey
  • A change model that provides a framework that enables both the practitioner and the client to "co-produce treatment" and respond dynamically to issues in real time
  • The blueprint for a multicomponent multidisciplinary model and its translation to a multisystem interdisciplinary paradigm
  • How to manage complexity by shifting thinking from linear cause and effect to non-linear system-wide dynamics, and much greater tolerance of uncertainty and unpredictability (systems thinking)
  • How to apply a systems thinking matrix to develop working formulations as a platform for treatment
  • How to integrate evidence-based practice with practice-based evidence
  • How to identify which sub-systems of a systems approach to work with, and troubleshoot potential disruptors of successful change.

Who is it for?

Allied health professionals who work or would like to work with chronic health conditions, including obesity. This may include: psychologists, exercise physiologists, dietitians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers etc., and medical professionals including doctors and nurses.

When is it?

Two days:   9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday 31 May (registration and coffee from 8:30 a.m.)  and 9 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. Saturday 1 April 2017.


Walkabout Creek conference centre, 60 Mt Nebo Road, The Gap. This is a bushland setting in Brisbane's western suburbs. There is parking on site.

(For some GPS use "Enoggera Reservoir" as the suburb).


Within the approach and content described earlier, the workshop will be responsive to the interests of participants.  Each participant will be encouraged to devise a relevant case study, and will be given an opportunity to apply the workshop content and processes to it.


There will be a balance of theory and practice.  The use of processes such as experiential activities, group and small group discussion, and participative approaches, deep learning will be facilitated.

There will be appropriate handouts.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD points)

If this program contains material corresponding with your professionŐs professional development learning needs, you will be eligible for 12 hours of continuing professional development.   An assessment quiz will be provided at the end of the two days for those professionals who need their professional development to be assessed.

For further Information ring Anna or Anita on 07 3843 1750 during office hours.


Dr Anita Cochrane (PhD),  Clinical Psychologist (AHPRA), Accredited Practising Dietitian

B Sc, B App Sci, Grad Dip Nutr & Diet, Post Grad Dip Psych, Grad Dip Hypnosis, Master Org Psych, PhD

I became interested in behaviour change after graduating as a dietitian.  I had quickly learned that "telling" people what to eat didn't translate into instant application. This triggered my foray into psychology.  I was in pursuit of the Holy Grail for behaviour change.  It has been a long road.  My most recent venture was a PhD aimed at developing a multicomponent and multidisciplinary approach to obesity management.  This research forced me to fully embrace the complexity involved in managing chronic health conditions, like obesity, and highlighted the relevance of applying systems thinking, co-design and flexible change processes in effecting change. Bob Dick, who will be co-facilitating the two-day training, was one of my doctoral supervisors and contributed significantly to my research.

Bob Dick  Independent scholar & educator, facilitator, coach and change consultant

I'm avidly interested in consultancy and facilitation work that's stimulating, worthwhile, and helps to make the world a better place.  I very much prefer participative assignments, with wide involvement of those people who have a stake in what's happening.  I prefer to work in ways that help the people I work with to acquire my skills and processes by working with me.
Much of my work uses participative methods, and concepts from systems and complexity thinking. In particular, I apply it for individual, team, organisational and community change. I also facilitate in-house and public workshops in these areas.
I've been doing this kind of work for quite a while -- about 40 years -- and I'm still learning. I enjoy it even more than I did when I was starting out. If I wasn't doing it as a career, I'd do it as a hobby.


The fee for the two days is $770.00 payable in advance.  An early bird rate of $660 is available for fees received before 17 March 2017.  Fees cover morning and afternoon tea, lunch, and handouts.  All prices are in Australian dollars and include GST.

Cancellations will result in a 90 per cent refund if received at least 10 days before the workshop, and a 50 per cent refund if received at least two days before the workshop.  Alternatively, participants who are unable to attend are welcome to substitute someone else.

To register

Go to Eventbrite, who will register you for the workshop.


Workshops in other locations?

For enquiries about workshops in locations other than Brisbane telephone Anna or Anita on 07 3843 1750 during office hours.

Maintained by Bob Dick.  This page last revised 2017 02 25.