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A key component for those within the helping professions is the ability to effectively communicate with clients and influence behavior change, but outside graduate studies and on-the-job training, how does one continue to develop their skill?
The answer is Motivational Interviewing. With more than three decades of study to support its use, MI, an evidence-based communication and helping style, has proven effective in changing patient behavior and subsequently has been adopted across a variety of disciplines including: medicine, behavioral health, corrections, child welfare, and others.
But what exactly is MI?
MI is a psychotherapeutic approach that attempts to move individuals away from a state of indecision or uncertainty, towards finding motivation to make positive decisions and accomplish established goals. Users learn how to express and show empathy toward their clients, develop discrepancy, deal with breakdowns in the working relationship, support self-efficacy, and promote autonomy.
While it’s one thing to know the skills and principles required, it’s another to put them into practice. Which is where Adrienne Lindsey, Principal Manager for Interprofessional Training and Curricula for ASU’s Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, steps in to offer support through a series of MI skill development and refinement training.
Lindsey, who earned her Doctorate in Behavioral Helath from ASU, expands on the program further, “In MI Basics, participants receive a day of training with practice exercises and introductory material and accrue six hours of CEUs. Meanwhile, the MI Academy is a two-day course, it not only includes practice exercises, but feedback on two work samples along with intermediate level materials. Academy participants also receive 12 hours of CEUs. Another option for those looking to hone their skill, is our MyMi Coding services, though not in a classroom setting, anyone can submit their work and receive individualized feedback whether or not they’ve attended one of our trainings.”
Lindsey has over a decade of experience as an MI user, trainer, coder, and coach. She has applied MI in her clinical work in integrated care settings in community health centers and correctional healthcare settings, and is a member of the international Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers. “MI is not only a useful tool for behavior change but general engagement," said Lindsey. "I have always felt it aligned with my personal ethics of respecting people’s autonomy and showing empathy for the hardships they endure, while still driving towards tangible results and lasting behavior change.”
How exactly do these programs work?
Participants first receive an assessment of their MI style by submitting video or audio recorded work samples. The samples are then rated by Lindsey’s staff of highly trained graduate research students at ASU. Participants then receive individualized feedback and coaching and can track their performance and progress over time.
“One of the most important things people get out of our workshops is individualized feedback on their MI skills," said Lindsey. "If we as professionals don’t know our baseline, we don’t know how and where to improve.”
Upon completing the training program participants receive a certificate of proficiency, demonstrating their individual skill level, which may use to demonstrate their proficiency to clinical supervisors, employers, potential employers, and others.
MI training is available on a revolving basis at the CABHP. In fact, you can register for an upcoming (6-CEU) MI Basics course in Phoenix on June 19, and a two-day (12-CEU) MI Academy in Flagstaff, July 16-17. At any point you may also register for MyMI Coding, ASU’s online virtual platform, by visiting this website.