by Steven M. Ledbetter
2 minute read
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In the early 1990s, Professor William R Miller, Ph.D. and Professor Stephen Rollnick, Ph.D. developed a simplified form of counseling that could be taught to professionals in health care, social work, and many other fields where practicers were not doing counseling, but rather helping to guide clients to the behaviors necessary to meet their goals. They called it “Motivational Interviewing (MI)” and while Motivational Interviewing in Health Care doesn’t say “for fitness professionals” on the cover, it darn well should.Traditional counseling is non-directive, meaning counselors rarely if ever are supposed to give advice, or promote one goal over another goal. Motivational Interviewing is different than traditional counseling in that it is goal-oriented and focused on promoting a client’s intrinsic motivation to change their behavior. MI was specially designed with health promotion in mind, for professionals that are not counselors. For coaches who want more tools to help their clients “do what they know they need to do,” MI is the place to start. I am not suggesting that coaches need to be, or even ethically should be therapists. However, I am quite sure that we can help people within our scope of practice by expanding our skill set within that scope of practice. The skills of Motivational Interviewing like Active Listening are intuitive and can be very valuable tools for coaches. Active listening means asking the questions you’re comfortable asking and the client is comfortable answering while earnestly listening in an effort to learn as much about the client as you need to do your job to the best of your ability. Essentially it’s the opposite of what Marla Singer in Fight Club called, “waiting for [your] turn to speak.” The book, Motivational Interviewing in Health Care is not a textbook. It’s a handbook. The authors do an excellent job of not only organizing the the skills of MI, but in teaching the reader how to use those skills in thought-provoking vignettes. And while the skills themselves are simple enough, the authors know that all skills can only be mastered with practice. To that end, nearly half of Motivational Interviewing in Health Care is dedicated to learning how to actually practice MI. Think of it like a book that teaches strength training. Half the book is how to squat, and the other half is how to program the squat to get better at it. This is fantastic format for not just getting the basics, but learning how to apply them in your field. Even after 300+ hours of supervised psychological skills training in traditional counseling, I re-read this book every year and carry my dog-eared copy in my work bag. As far as Coach Stevo is concerned, Motivational Interviewing in Health Care is not recommended reading; it’s required!