The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Certified counselor gives motivational interviewing advice

By Taylor Jensen/reporter

It is important when counseling people to understand that it is their life not the counselor’s, and that the counselor is there to embrace and encourage them, a NE speaker said Dec. 1.

Leslie Ware, a certified rehab counselor and NE adjunct instructor, explained the technique of motivational interviewing — a counseling approach based on behavioral change that places heavy emphasis on individual responsibility. Its ultimate goal is to help clients explore and resolve their own ambivalence, which Ware defines as a conscious or subconscious weighing of pros and cons.

“When using this technique, therapists help clients consider what can be gained from change,” she said.

Ware gave the background of motivational interviewing, which was originally applied in resolving substance abuse.

“It is an approach to counseling that brings about internal change and does not push someone into making that change,” she said. “You go at the pace comfortable to your client.”

Ware asked the audience to envision a car with the client in the driver’s seat and the counselor in the passenger seat. She then pointed out that the counselor is along for the ride and to help resolve obstacles along the way.

“It’s their life,” she said. “You’re there to help them, not drive their car.”

Ware then gave examples of what not to do when using motivational interviewing. Fear-based counseling that relies on threats and confrontation cannot elicit a lasting behavioral change, Ware said.

“You cannot argue with the client that they have a problem,” she said.

Audience member and Tarrant County mental health coordinator Linda Collins weighed in.

“Nowadays, people don’t know what their values are, and they are so quick to give them up for a job or a relationship,” she said.

Ware said a counselor’s job is to help clients see their potential because sometimes when people are in a crisis, they can’t.

“Motivational interviewing is not persuasion,” she said. “It is not ‘used’ on people.”

The idea is to be genuine and help clients envision a better future and become more motivated in achieving it, Ware said.

Graduate Janice Cole asked, “What if a client is mandated to be there and does not want change?”

Ware said if a client is not emotionally ready to make a change, the counselor must be empathetic and utilize reflective listening to discover what the client wants to gain from the session.

“You have to let them do most of the talking,” she said. “If a client says that vodka is their best friend, that is a significant statement that lets you know that they are not ready for a solution. What you can do is prepare them for a change down the road.”

Ware concluded the seminar with videos showing the execution of correct motivational interviewing and a role-playing group activity with the audience.

“Motivational interviewing is using empathy to see through the client‘s eyes and establishing their freedom to trigger understanding and change,” she said.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian