It is no coincidence that the change sign in the picture above is a yellow warning sign. Change is hard for many people. And taking on the learning of a new approach, like learning Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a considerable investment in time, energy and, let’s face it, ego. As a professional, we like to feel competent. When we learn a new skill, it takes time to get good at it and more time still to integrate it into our practice. Think about skiing: you can read everything about skiing, watch all the skiing videos, but if your skis aren’t on the snow, it will be very difficult to improve your skills.
And MI requires that the MI practitioner leaves behind the responsibility for the results (ahhhh!) and takes on the responsibility for the process (uh-oh!). MI is a client-centred, evidence-based communication approach that helps people who want to make a change, make it in the way that works best for them. The MI practitioner will learn how to evoke the clients’ reasons to change (and not to change!) and how to explore their past successes in a way that invites them to see if those previously-successful strategies might work in this situation. Sometimes our sense of helplessness overwhelms us and, despite our best intentions, out come the solutions! When we leap in with our solution, even a great one, it passes the message to our clients that they are not able to discover solutions without our help, that they are incompetent in their own lives. That is not helpful to them or us! The clients are, however, always in charge of their change objective and their own methods to make that change, in short, they’re the experts on themselves. So what’s the role of the practitioner? We are the experts on finding the clients’ motivation to change and tickling it into life as well as bringing our expertise in the content of our field and training.
Are you up for the challenge and relief of letting go of the results and getting deeper into the responsibility for a process that puts the client first, really, truly first in the intervention?