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Motivational Interviewing Goes to War

We know that motivational interviewing is used effectively for addictions, psychological problems, health related behavior change, medication adherence, life coaching, and other “clinical” issues. But what about it’s use in the military setting? A recent article by James Cowan, Nengyalai Amalyar and Mohammad Mustafa argues for the use of MI in the area of combat advising.

If United States forces are ever to leave Afghanistan, “standing up a professional Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) is central” to this effort, according to the authors. Doing so requires a partnership between advisors and Afghan military personnel.

Advisors assigned to Afghanistan are told anecdotally that establishing an effective partnership depends on such elements as; developing rapport and respect, building trust, sharpening skills of persuasion, exercising patience, effecting empowerment, etc. but they are not given direct training in effective, proven ways to do these things. The authors argue that MI is …
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I guess it's traditional to say a few words about New Year's resolutions at the beginning of the year, so here goes. The statistics say that only about half of us make New Year's resolutions and only about 1 out of 5 people that make them, keep them. You couldn't tell by going to my gym, though, since the place is uncomfortably crowded these days. But, as usual, about a month from now people's motivation will wane and I'll be able to get on my favorite elliptical trainer again. Resolutions are made to be broken, but goals, on the other hand, can keep us focused all year.

So, how do you keep yourself motivated to accomplish the goals that you set for yourself this year? Well, if you know MI, why not use the techniques that you use to motivate your clients to motivate yourself? MI is about eliciting "change talk" from your clients. The more change talk, the more likely people will change. What is your favorite technique for eliciting change talk from yo…

Change Talk: Encouraging client arguments for change.

One of the things that makes Motivational Interviewing unique and different from other methods of counseling is the emphasis in MI on "change talk." Change talk is defined as client speech that favors movement in the direction of healthy behavior change. When we hear change talk, the client is arguing for change. In MI, we want to encourage change talk so we learn how to recognize and reinforce client change talk. We also learn specific techniques to elicit this kind of language because the more a client argues for change, the more likely he or she will actually make a healthy change in behavior.
There are several types of change talk identifiable in client speech. There are statements of desire, ability, need, reasons and commitment. The first four of these types are preliminary or preparatory types of change talk. A person might say that he wants to change, can change, or give you good reasons to change or tell you why he needs to change. All these statements should be reco…