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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's My Motivation?

I attended a fabulous training on Motivational Interviewing yesterday. For folks who don't know therapist lingo, Motivational Interviewing is a strategy of treatment based on helping the client find their own motivation for change, as opposed having change imposed upon them by the system, society, their family, etc. What I like about this kind of treatment is that it is NICE. What I mean by that is that unlike some treatment strategies, it's not my job to call a client out or become another branch of the governing agent who sent my client to the clinic. There is nothing I hate more that being told, "well, why didn't you just tell her she was wrong? Why didn't you confront her?" The answer is, I don't like telling people what to do (at least, I don't like telling strangers what to do- my family is another story!). I like the idea of letting them tell me what they want, and helping them figure out what behaviors will help them reach their goal and which are getting in the way- even figuring out what they want in the first place, because sometimes that's the piece that's missing.

Some notable motivational interviewing questions include:

"So, what do you enjoy about ________________?"
"What has __________ cost you?"
"What would have to happen to let you know that the ______ is a problem?"
"How important would you say it is for you to change?"
"If you decided to change, how confident are you that you could do it?"
"Have you ever considered....?"

Using questions like these, we can help the client dredge of their own motivation to make changes, which is much more powerful and effective in the long term.

So what about you? What's your motivation?


  1. What is my motivation? To be liked, to please God, to please others, to be compliant, to do my personal best. Sometimes, I hate to say it but, fear is my motivation.

  2. I suppose what makes fear a good or less good motivation is what we are afraid of. If I am afraid of getting hit by a car so I walk on the sidewalk instead in the middle of a busy highway, that's a motivation with positive consequences. But if I avoid doing things I need or want to do because of fear of social rejection or fear or change, then I have to examine that motivation.