MI has been on my mind lately. No, not the state of Michigan, but Motivational Interviewing (MI). Steven Samra, Recovery Specialist, and I have been collaborating over the past few weeks on a HRC webcast, entitled "Guiding People Towards Change: The Spirit of Motivational Interviewing."
The notion of MI spirit can be hard to pin down. We’ve had fun gleaning the literature and thinking creatively about how to convey this concept. In the end we came up with some powerful real life examples of MI spirit in action. Steven has some amazing stories that illustrate being on both the receiving and providing end.
A mantra that best describes MI spirit is that it is “collaborative, evocative, and empowering.” When our helping efforts embrace and embody these characteristics, we are likely to do much more good than harm. Conversely, when we act in paternalistic and prescriptive ways, we can do more harm than good.
When you begin to go deeper into a topic, it brings up memories. As Steven and I talked about his days living on the streets and living with a mental illness and substance use disorder, he recalled some of the helping professionals he encountered. Some were helpful, some were not.
There was one counselor he saw in the 1990’s who was particularly influential and instrumental in Steven’s journey towards recovery. Now that he knows more about the spirit and practice of MI, Steve wonders if the counselor might have been trained in it. The way the counselor treated Steven resonates with what Steve now knows about MI.
Recently, Steve decided to do some detective work. He did some digging and found a phone number for the counselor. He hadn’t seen him in over a decade. He dialed the counselor’s phone number and introduced himself. Steve asked about the counselor’s experience with MI.
Sure enough, the counselor had been trained in MI in the 1990’s. When he met Steve, he was consciously working within the spirit and skill set of MI. It was a fascinating and heartening discovery - attesting to the power of the spirit of Motivational Interviewing to transform lives.
Visit the HRC Motivational Interviewing Topic Page or read the feature article about the spirit of Motivational Interviewing to learn more.
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