Do you really know what the FOCUS Is?

A client makes an appointment to come see you due to drinking, depression, or some other desired change and through a brief conversation on the phone you think you know what their focus is. BUT…is that really their focus? Is the topic they called about really what they truly want to change in their life?

Focus is the second process in Motivational Interviewing after engagement is created and a collaborative working alliance has been established. We can easily fall into the trap of creating too much of an intensity around a specific focus which may break the alliance or cause a client not to return for another appointment.

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Empathy as Medicine

Research clearly indicates that the greatest predictor of why people change is empathy on the part of the professional.  So how do we show empathy in a conversation to allow our clients to experience empathy versus just generating an empty chair of sympathy?

How do we use empathetic reflections that allow our clients to know we understand their thoughts and feelings?  It starts with going beyond the content of what we are hearing. In Motivational Interviewing, we sometimes refer to it as the “backstory” of reflecting feelings or thoughts that have not been stated.

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It’s Not about the Questions

When I’m talking to a professional about how to help their clients with conversations about change I frequently hear “I don’t know what questions to ask?” or “If I just knew how to ask the right questions I’m sure I would get more answers.”

What if it’s NOT about the questions? 

We want our clients to talk about change, about their lives and be authentic in their conversations.

In reality, a question is looking at the problem from the OUTSIDE.  But what about the INSIDE?  How do you get to the inside and trust the person in front of you has the answers and wisdom inside of them for whatever change they need to make?

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Taking the Good Lines

img_1919You are reluctantly remembering your last session with a client who wanted to quit smoking and feeling guilty that it did not go the way you would have hoped.

Your helper instinct kicked in and you were trying to have a conversation about the ramifications of his 2 pack per day habit of 20 years.  Unfortunately, it was like you were in the middle of a bad movie with you taking the role as the hero and your client being the villain.

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What are you HEARING? The 3 types of Talk in MI

IMG_3397Did you know that what comes out of your client’s mouth is highly influenced by what you are saying?

If statements from your client start with the word YOU it can mean they have perceived the conversation as potentially judgmental. In Motivational Interviewing we call this discord. Discord reflects the dissonance in your working relationship, and often conceals feelings of embarrassment, shame, guilt, or loss.

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Taking off the Stems

IMG_4755You’ve just bought a beautiful bouquet of flowers and are heading home. What’s the first thing you do before putting them into a vase to enjoy? You take off the wrapping, pull out your scissors and cut off the stems so they have the best chance of survival for the week. Then you put the little flower preservation packet in the water before putting the vase on display.

Classically therapists were trained to use conversational stems such as: “it sounds like,” “I’m hearing,” and “I understand that.”

In MI we say “stems” dilute the meaning of a reflection and can actually be manipulative.

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What you Say MATTERS

IMG_2481Do you frequently come home tired?  Do you wish your conversations felt more serene?

Ever wonder how you can truly make a difference in your clients’ lives without having to try so hard?

I’m here to argue that Motivational Interviewing can save you energy, time and shift the conversation towards change.

What you say REALLY does matter!

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What We Say MATTERS: The Working Alliance

Part of any successful relationship, personal or business is the working alliance.

Is there a true partnership? How is the collaboration?

Through learning and teaching Motivational Interviewing I realize the working alliance is not only important, but also vitally essential.

How do your words “land” on your clients? Are their eyes shining? How is your language being received?

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Suspending Advice

flower_blog_9230If you could be a fly on the wall, what would you like to hear your client reveal to their friends about your session with them?

Do you want to be seen as helpful and empathetic or someone who was trying to fix their situation?

Recently I gave a brief 1-hour Motivational Interviewing (MI) workshop for physicians at their weekly meeting for research and learning.

Following the workshop, a few of the physicians asked “what is it in us as physicians that we feel compelled to try to fix others?”

Perhaps the real question is “what is it in us as human beings that we think we have the ability to find solutions for another’s problems?


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Understanding the Power of Motivational Interviewing

IMG_9268As a soon to be registered dietitian (RD), I have completed school and my internship. I am currently preparing for the RD exam and getting ready to embark on my new career. But…as part of this new journey, I wanted to make sure I had all of the tools necessary to be the best RD I could in this ever-changing world.

This meant being able to have a language to help my patients achieve their desired health goals. Yet as the British poet Joseph Addison said it best, “There is nothing which we receive with so much reluctance as advice.”

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© Copyright 2018 SGJ Consulting, Inc. Motivational Interviewing Trainer