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Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a powerful tool in case management and therapeutic work with torture survivors and others. 


Motivation is often considered a characteristic fostered and maintained on an individual basis; we describe ourselves as being self-motivated for graduate school, inspired to learn new languages by personal drive, and guided by internal ambition when pursuing new aims. Edward Stellon challenges this notion through this webinar by introducing the concept of motivational interviewing, a tactic for helping clients overcome ambivalence and uncertainty when confronted with the tides of change. According to Stellon, motivation is not limited to the realm of the individual, but rather directly correlated to and even dependent upon external influences. In this context, Stellon offers motivational interviewing as a means by which counselors can inspire their clients to become enthusiastic about recovery and overcome resistance to change.

Stellon breaks down the concept of motivational interviewing into an easy and applicable three-step approach. The first step for those in the process of recovery is what he calls “Ready”, or being willing and able to embrace change. This concept is built around Stellon’s observation that an individual’s willingness to address and treat their symptoms is at the core of the healing process. What follows is Stellon’s second step, “Able.” In this stage a counselor focuses on helping a client feel a sense of ability, confidence, and capability for change before moving forward to the final stage, “Ready.” In this third step of the motivational interviewing process, counselors focus on helping their clients feel that now is the right time to receive treatment and embrace new beginnings. “Motivational interviewing is a measure of all three of these elements,” Stellon explains. “It is about identifying barriers, addressing ambivalence, and building confidence.”

In addition to this three-stage approach to motivation, Stellon also addresses problem-solving techniques for counselors who encounter clients who are resistant to change or defensive of their current behavior. These strategies include ask open-ended questions, listen reflectively, affirm, summarize, and elicit self-motivational statements, each of which Stellon outlines in extensive detail. By considering both tactics for encouraging clients to embrace new perspectives as well as solutions to barriers, Stellon ultimately demonstrates how counselors can successfully motivate their clients to commit to positive change.

This is a four-part series on Motivational Interviewing with Ed Stellon (MS, MA, CADC):

This presentation was recorded at the Meeting Social Services Needs in the Current Climate training institute held in Evanston, IL in August 2012.


Website with Motivational Interviewing Resources:


MotivationalIntWebinar12-12-07 (3).pdf