Motivational Interviewing workshop - it is not about persuasion

Motivational Interviewing – It’s not about persuasion!

At Veriti Motivational Interviewing workshops we ask participants to choose something in their own life that they are currently working on changing, or thinking of changing, and that they are willing to share with other workshop participants. This issue then becomes their focus for the Motivational Interviewing activities throughout the day. Of course, we also discuss confidentiality and ensure that the group has a collective commitment to maintain it.

Most of us have experienced a ‘persuasion’ conversation about changing. It often goes a bit like this:

Client: “I need to lose 12 kilos to be at a healthy weight and I just feel stuck, it is so hard to stick to a diet.”
Helper: “I know how you feel, it can very demoralising.” “Have you tried meal replacement shakes-you can buy them at the chemist?” “I have a friend who lost heaps of weight that way.”

Client: “Yes, I did try that, but when I stopped using the shakes, I just put the weight back on again.”
Helper: “Well, I think the idea is that you just need to keep using them all the time and also get into regular exercise.” “Have you thought about joining a gym?”

Client: “I feel too big to go to a gym, I would just be too embarrassed.”
Helper: “I used a personal trainer for awhile, it really helped to keep me motivated, what about trying that?” “I could give you the name of the personal trainer I used”

Client: “Hmmm, I don’t know, it sounds like it would pretty expensive and I am trying to save for a house at the moment.”
Helper: “Well, what about Weight Watchers, lots of people find that works.”

Client: “Hmmm, I don’t know…..”

Have you ever had a conversation like this – either as the helper or as the person struggling with change? It’s well meaning, but generally not helpful for making changes.

In the Veriti Motivational Interviewing workshops, we show you a more effective approach. Using the spirit and skills of Motivational Interviewing, participants learn how to move away from offering suggestions and advice, and how instead to be more collaborative in their work. This involves using a number of strategies suggested by Miller and Rollnick (2013), such as curious questions, empathy, reflection and active listening to help the client talk about their struggle with change.

When the client’s own experience and self knowledge are evoked we generally find they can quite quickly identify what they are and are not willing to do around change. Curious questions about exceptions or times when the problem was not so great or was not an issue, are also a great tool to help clients identify strengths or abilities they have, but may have been overlooking.

These are just a couple of examples of Motivational Interviewing strategies. Come along to one of our online or face to face workshops and learn more about effective ways to help people struggling with change.

Contact us to find out more about Motivational Interviewing and how we can assist your organisation to support and empower your staff. Veriti is on twitter and we also welcome contact and your comments @Veritihealth.


Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational Interviewing: Helping people change (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

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