Change Talk

by Daniel · 1 comment

I recently read a 2009 study on Motivational Interviewing.  Motivational interviewing is a client centered, semi-directive therapeutic process. Motivational interviewing is non-judgmental, non-confrontational and non-adversarial. The study found evidence that “What therapists reflect back, they will hear more of,” and that promoting talk about change promotes change.

What does this mean for the medical model or accepted modality of treatment today?

The study points out clues to what therapists should not do if they wish to hear positive change talk from their clients. Therapists should avoid confrontation, giving advice, raising concerns without permission, or telling clients what to do – yet these are common tactics in substance abuse treatment.   Furthermore it cautions that therapists should be cautious of feeding back to a client negative or counter change talk because it stimulates more of the same. The findings suggest that therapists should learn to selectively reinforce the change talk elements while avoiding the temptation to reflect back, attempt to suppress or challenge the less promising elements, which are best seen as the expected background ‘noise’ for more favorable comments.

If you are seeking treatment for yourself, a friend or family member take caution during your research.  When speaking with the agency representative listen for an underlying theme of the prevalence of “sickness” talk.  If a therapist or agency promotes a “these people are sick” stance run away and run fast.  Agencies and therapists that are successful promote wellness.  They see their guests as human beings in need of direction.  They focus on a guest’s strengths and promote positive growth.  They motivate individuals in the change process.

People that recover make the decision to do so.  Bringing people through a process that engages them and then motivates them to take action is the key to positive meaningful recovery.  Individuals and families deserve the opportunity to enhance their recovery potential and not to be looked at as “Sickies” that are negative, manipulative, liars!

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