Motivational Interviewing: A Toolkit for Change Talk

What is ambivalence and what does it have to do with healthcare? Merriam-Webster defines ambivalence as the “simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings toward an object, person, or action.” A healthcare example might be feeling strongly that you must quit smoking yet not wanting to stop.

This is where motivational interviewing (MI) comes in. Motivational interviewing is a conversation about change that allows the client to talk themselves into change based on their own values, beliefs, and life circumstances. It’s a process that can involve all team members and occurs over time.

During a recent three-part webinar series on motivational interviewing, RN and MI expert, Jayne Josephsen, discussed the principles and spirit of motivational interviewing, understanding the relationship between motivation and change, recognizing the change process, identifying stages of change and motivational strategies, and appreciating the role of ambivalence in change.

Motivational interviewing is a process based on “guiding” not “directing” your client. It involves partnership with your client, acceptance of what they bring to the conversation, compassion, and evocation (working to bring forth the client’s strengths).

Motivational interviewing is based on the principles that clients are experts on themselves; that providers are not responsible for “making” change happen nor coming up with solutions; that change is a collaborative process, not a power struggle; and that clients make their own decisions about their behaviors.

During the webinar series, Jayne discussed the stages and processes of change. Above all, she said, change is a process not an event. Finally, Jayne identified questions that can elicit health behavior change, explained the various types of change/action/and coping plans, and examined motivational interviewing frameworks.

Without spoiling the ending, the three sessions include the following take-aways:

  • We cannot make someone else change.
  • The client is the expert.
  • Establish a good rapport.
  • Allow the client to resolve their ambivalence.
  • Dance, don’t wrestle. (You’ll have to listen to the webinars to find out what this means.)

If you’re interested in listening to this popular and informative webinar series and learning more about motivational interviewing, CLICK HERE to go to the website where there are additional MI resources as well.

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