Motivational Interviewing : Back to School Part 7

motivational interviewing

We began looking at some open-ended questions in yesterday’s blog, and today we take that a step further by looking at the concept of Motivational Interviewing.

“The use of MI includes setting a stage of support and empathy while implementing this approach. MI also seeks to evoke “change talk” from the client, which confirms and draws out the client’s own desire, reason, ability and self-motivation for change” (NSHC Program Manual, p. 110). While MI goes far beyond the patient behavior change we are discussing here, the main principles we focus on as Health Coaches are:

  • Resist the “Righting Reflex”
  • Understand and explore the client’s motivation
  • ListenĀ 
  • Empower the client

Resist the “Righting Reflex”

  • Healthcare professionals (and everyone) have a natural desire to “fix” people
  • Making corrections to the patient’s behavior will create more resistance
  • This may contribute to non-compliance
  • Make sure you are able to recognize patient resistance and what may have triggered it

Understand and explore the client’s motivation

  • Values, beliefs and concerns are unique to each individual
  • These values, beliefs and concerns play a critical role in the decision-making process
  • Learning your patient’s values, beliefs and concerns can help you overcome challenges and help them make the decision to change their behaviors

Listen to the Client

  • Communication, communication, communication! Here it is again! Use your active listening skills to hear what they are saying and to understand the motivations behind their words
  • Don’t let time constraints force you to revert back to telling the patient what they need, take the time to listen

Empower the Client

  • Clients are the experts on their own lives
  • Therefore, the client must play an active role in the behavior-change process
  • Clients must feel they can talk to you and have you really listen to them!
  • Recognize ambivalence and get them to talk about it
  • Engage, do not assume, and ask permission to give them information. Do not force it on them!


Want to dig further into the Motivational Interviewing concept? Take a look at this YouTube query created by Watch some of the videos and see how you can apply techniques to your work and your patients.

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