Focusing means strategic centering with a collaborative goal
In a previous article, we looked at Motivational Interviewing (MI) as having four key processes: Engaging, Focusing, Evoking and Planning.
Motivational Interviewing is directional – not directive. There is a horizon, something that we and the client are committed to working toward. However, finding and collaboratively agreeing on goals can be a challenge! This week’s intentional practice looks at the process of working with your client to jointly identify an agreed-upon goal. Below are two brief case scenarios. With a partner, you will each take a turn with one of the scenarios as a departure point for a follow-up session with a client with the intention of setting an agenda for change. The skills for intentional practice in this activity are to:
- Actively embody the spirit of MI: partnership, acceptance, compassion and evocation
- Beware the “righting reflex” – your task is to collaboratively focus on a goal, not to fix it!
- Practice reflective listening – incorporate at least three reflective responses in your practice
- Affirm client autonomy: remember that in the end, the client is in the driver’s seat!
Practice a focusing conversation using the skills of MI – with special attention to those noted above. How can you practice these skills to guide the client toward focusing on a meaningful and collaborative goal? Take five minutes and then switch roles. After you have both had an opportunity to practice, take five minutes to debrief and share feedback with your learning buddy.
Case Example 1:
You are meeting with your client, Akilesh, for a follow-up appointment. In your initial session, you learned that he has been under a great deal of stress due to impending lay-offs at his work place. To make matters worse, his wife is in her first month of maternity leave with a reduced income. His mother’s health is failing, and his older son has been acting out at school: hitting and spitting at other children in his class, and on one occasion, his teacher. Finally, at the end of your first session, Akilesh “came clean” with you and acknowledged that he smokes 10-15 cigarettes per day.
Case Example 2:
You are meeting with your client, Elina, for a follow-up appointment. At the end of your initial session, Elina reluctantly agreed to come back and see you again. You suspect that in addition to appeasing her cardiologist by attending the referral appointment with you last time, she is now coming back for this second appointment because she wants to appease you. In the previous session, Elina acknowledged that she would probably be healthier if she quit smoking, but stated that smoking is a profound pleasure for her. She shared that she has already made so many changes, she just can’t see herself giving up her cigarettes.
Reflective practice questions:
Was your “righting reflex” triggered by anything in the case example, or by any of the client responses in your role play? To what extent were you able to maintain MI Spirit throughout the conversation?