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Motivational interviewing to promote lifestyle changes

May 7, 2015

We all benefit from making lifestyle changes that improve our health and well-being. Clinicians, who are deeply invested in client care, often provide advice and suggestions to their clients to facilitate these changes, which range from eating healthier foods to seeking mental health services. Clients, on the other hand, may face a multitude of challenges that prevent them from undertaking a variety of health behaviours. They may not know where to start or how to overcome seemingly insurmountable barriers.

During CMHA Ontario’s Training Workshop on Motivational Interviewing, CMHA Ottawa presented an evidence-based approach called Motivational Interviewing to explore and address clients’ barriers to change as well as enhance their motivation to do so. Marie Delorme, a Program Manager in Case Management, and Russell Sheridan, a Senior Manager of Clinical Services, described Motivational Interviewing as a collaborative, person-centered, guided conversation to elicit and strengthen clients’ own motivation for change. They presented practical tools and strategies to address key issues in health behaviour change.

Motivational Interviewing has been implemented across a variety of health and lifestyle behaviours, including mental health, and involves the following four processes: engaging, focusing, evoking and planning.

Motivational Interviewing has been implemented across a variety of health and lifestyle behaviours, including mental health, substance use, diabetes, weight management, HIV prevention, organizational change, and more. It involves the following four processes: engaging, focusing, evoking and planning. Engaging refers to creating a therapeutic alliance with the client. Focusing involves focusing on the behaviour that clients would like to change and defining the scope of the client-clinician interaction. Evoking refers to eliciting the client’s own reasons for change, and planning involves developing a change plan to reach the client’s goals.

The presenters engaged participants through interactive activities, case examples, video-vignettes and group discussion. As a result of this dynamic workshop, participants learned how to:

  • Respond to clients’ ambivalence to change in a constructive way;
  • Understand the underlying values and theory around Motivational Interviewing;
  • Apply five key motivational interviewing strategies and identify tools to increase clients’ own reasons and need for change;
  • Set clinical objectives in practicing motivational interviewing strategies with clients.

Participants left the workshop informed and inspired. For more information about Motivational Interviewing, see Motivational Interviewing website.

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