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Being Your Own Expert

By Karen Williams, LIMHP April 04, 2012 Posted in: Wellness

Hello again everyone. I hope this blog finds you doing well with this amazing weather we're having.

This morning I received an email for some training here at Alegent for behavioral and mental-health care providers called Motivational Interviewing. One of the great things about Alegent Health is that we are constantly making sure we are keeping up with the best ways to help patients get well and stay well. Mental Health here at Alegent is no different. To be a mental-health provider requires ongoing training – being open to life-long learning is just part of the job for all providers. As providers, we are often notified of upcoming trainings through our management teams, and most of us are connected with State and National Boards that inform of us upcoming trainings, as well. Trust me, there's always something exciting going on at Alegent to help us help you better.

Motivational Interviewing was first developed in 1983 by William R. Miller. Miller was working with alcohol and substance abuse patients. His goal was to find better ways to help his patients move toward sobriety and maintain sobriety. In a nutshell, he developed a somewhat new approach to therapy. This new approach puts the patient in the driver's seat - being his or her own expert at what will motivate them towards lasting change. In 1983, this was a relatively new idea – the patient as their own expert, rather than the therapist as expert.

When you think about it, it's really true and it makes so much sense. We are our very own experts at our very own lives. Who could possibly know us better than ourselves? We know what motivates us and what doesn't. The therapist becomes a collaborative support rather than the "be-all-end-all" of wisdom. As one article I read states, "Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative conversation to strengthen a person's own motivation for and commitment to change."

There are three main components to Motivational Interviewing, or MI, as it is sometimes referred:

  1. Collaboration – developing a partnership between patient and provider that is based on what the patient experiences, rather than what the provider knows. It's less confrontational and more conversational.
  2. Drawing Out – the provider assists the patient draw out, through the collaborative conversation, the ideas that will most help the patient succeed at the goal that has been set by the patient (not the provider).
  3. Autonomy – both patient and provider honor, recognize, and trust that the point of power to change is actually within the patient.

Many mental-health providers use a variety of theories, tools and techniques to assist their patients. MI is just one of many excellent ways to help patients figure out what they want and how to get it. It works well for a variety of patients in a variety of situations because the patient manages the goal and the outcome by their own choices and behaviors. Clearly, there can be both rewards and challenges for the patient with any type of change or stressor that is occurring. The mental/behavioral-health provider is there every step of the way to offer support, further collaboration, and to work through the various peaks and valleys that may occur.

You can read more about MI by Googling Motivational Interviewing. The website has a really good piece called "What is Motivational Interviewing and there are several other sites that you might find helpful.

Take care and enjoy this gorgeous weather!

Karen Williams, LIMHP
Karen Williams, LIMHP

Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.

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