Motivational Interviewing

By Cheryl Perry

A group of SMCC nursing students from all four semesters of the program hosted Stephen Andrew from the Health Education & Training Institute of Portland, Maine. Stephen is world-recognized for his exceptional teaching of Motivational Interviewing, a counseling technique.

The definition Stephen provided to us is as follows: “Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is designed to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own reason for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.”

In healthcare today, 60 to 80 percent of all healthcare needs are lifestyle-related, so being able to communicate effectively without judgment is a required but overlooked skill.
During this session, Stephen provided information about various forms of communication skills. Then we tried them out; every 10 minutes or so he had an exercise where we would practice skills like fully listening, being present, and not asking questions. The basic method he wanted us to practice is OARS, which stands for Open-ended questions, Affirmations, Reflections, Summary.

He asked us to keep a sheet of paper to jot down our big takeaways from the four-hour workshop. These were a few of mine: “being kind is not enough”; The “No. 1 de-motivator is unsolicited advice”; “judgment is a form of violence”; “people aren’t broken — they suffer, but they’re not broken”; “the receiver is always correct”; “compassion with direction”; “ask permission or offer advice & and wait for the answer, then ask what they think of it”; and “definition of compassion: ability to sit with suffering.”
It was a great session and the SMCC Nursing Club hopes to be able to continue to have Stephen come to work with nursing students each semester.

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