Wondering what you can expect with your upcoming Motivational Interviewing (MI) Training? If you’ve taken the step to invite an MI trainer to your organization, or if you’ve decided to attend a workshop on MI for the first time, you are already on your way to being able to motivate your clients in a new and improved way. Here are 4 components you are likely to experience in any MI training:
1. Hear the term “MINT”
It’s not that MI trainers have bad breath, but they do talk about MINT a lot. When introducing themselves, they might say they are a MINT member, or they might even refer to themselves as “MINTie.” What does it mean? MINT stands for the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT), which is the the worldwide organization committed to excellence in Motivational Interviewing. Having an MI trainer who is a MINT member is the gold standard of training in motivational interviewing.
To become a MINT member, trainers go through a rigorous application process, including submitting an audio recording of them demonstrating their MI skills. Then, the prospective trainers complete a Training for New Trainers (TNT), usually a 3-day event to prepare them to become a quality trainer of MI. These trainings are offered through MINT once per year at various locations around the world, with a few extra offerings in high-need areas. If you are interested in finding an MI trainer who is a MINT member, visit this link to search by geographical area.
2. Participate in a Real Play
About 45 years ago, when trying teach skills of empathic listening, Bill Miller began using a practice technique called “Real Plays” (as contrasted with role plays), and it’s a teaching tool that has stuck throughout the MI training community throughout time. A Real Play means you are taking about your own material, rather than pretending to be someone else. When practitioners role play clients with whom they work, they do not behave like actual clients. A person operating from a prepared role is not as flexible or naturally reactive as people are when they are talking about themselves.
Participating in a Real Play during training (from both sides: as the helper and as the one being helped) will help you learn the skills better because it will be a more realistic situation. You can then take your skills back and apply them to your work with those you serve. So – when you are asked to talk about something that YOU actually want to change in your life (but haven’t changed yet), choose something you feel comfortable talking about for a few minutes as you share with another professional. You will likely feel your motivation around this topic build, as your helper uses the skills of MI.
3. Watch a Video and Debrief Thoroughly
Depending on the length of your training, it’s likely that your MI trainer will show a video to help you grasp the concepts and skills covered in your training. This video might include a bad example or a good example of a practitioner using Motivational Interviewing.
Of course, because MI training is about conversational techniques, it’s not enough for the training group to just watch the video. Expect that your MI trainer will want your group to discuss and dissect parts of the conversation. Thorough group debriefs after a video or practice exercise are usually among the richest parts of a training!
And yes, you guessed it…
4. Become a Better Listener!
Because the backbone of Motivational Interviewing is reflective listening, you can except that you will be practicing your listening skills in different ways throughout your MI training experience. This will include best practices for asking questions and giving information. You may also learn how to affirming others really well, and, without a doubt, you will practicing reflective listening techniques.
Think you are already a great listener? You probably are… AND… that means you already have a great foundation on which to build. I encourage you to try to stretch and challenge yourself by trying to go “out on a limb” a bit more, when practicing your listening skills during your MI training. Focus on accurate empathy and deeper reflection statements. In the MINT, we say that everyone can continue to grow as an effective and empathetic listener. As an MI trainer, I continue to work on improving and stretching my listening skills every day. When you fully participate in your upcoming MI training, you might be surprised when you become an even better listener than you already are.
Wishing you a wonderful experience in learning Motivational Interviewing in your upcoming training!
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