Moving past sustain talk
We have been well-trained to dig into the reasons our clients don’t want to change, but where does that get us? LOTS of “sustain talk”. Sustain talk is all the client discourse about why they don’t want to change.
Reflecting Change Talk
Key elements to successfully practicing Motivational Interviewing (MI) are being able to judge what change talk intensity to use with your clients, to further their commitment for change. Forward-moving reflections can also be helpful to guide your client towards change talk, when they are generating mostly sustain talk.
Buddhists speak of “right effort” in their Noble Eight-fold path; the Western work ethic seems to go in a different direction. Which one brings more happiness? What is the “Right effort” in your practice?
To encourage change, try reflections instead of questions
I think about being efficient and effective in my therapeutic relationship, knowing that the client benefits greatly from a solid therapeutic relationship, and it is my job as a practitioner to build it. When someone is talking to me about their issues, I use “reflections”, usually complex ones, instead of questions. They are much more effective at building a strong therapeutic relationship and therefore, encouraging change.
Why Aren’t We Taught the Essential Things?
Most helping professionals have heard that up to 75% of the effectiveness of any therapeutic approach is due to the quality of the therapeutic alliance. Strangely, few are ever taught now to create that crucial relationship. MI can fill that gap.
The Benefits of Silence
For people who talk for a living, four days of silence at a retreat is an interesting contrast and frankly, for me, a welcome relief. Whatever advice or wisdom we encounter, so often shared with our clients, is turned inwards, to nourish ourselves.
Is Focussing on the Problem the Best Way to Help a Client Change?
Psychologists, social workers, etc. have been taught to dig into what is wrong with our clients, as if we’re taught to discourage them first, then help them out of the hole we helped dig! What would happen if instead we looked at their strengths?
When Does Recovery Become Living Fully?
Does the term “recovery” serve populations already stigmatized by previous behaviours? Or would a larger perspective be more helpful?
Why Wouldn’t You Want to Learn Motivational Interviewing?
When we offer unsolicited solutions, it passes the message to our clients that they are incompetent in their own lives, demobilises them and makes our job harder. This is why MI is a useful and practice-changing client-centered approach.
Giving Up Something You Love… For a Life You Can Live
Whether someone chooses to give up a passion like tennis or gambling, they will suffer a loss of what they loved. Compassion is crucial as they follow through with either decision.