Motivational Interviewing in Recreational Therapy

Posted: June 4, 2017 by Starr LaMonde, CTRS

Arrow On Road

Early on in my career I was introduced to the technique referred to as motivational interviewing.  It was developed by clinical psychologists William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick in the 1980’s.   The idea behind motivational interviewing is very basic.  In general, people do not like to be told what to do.  I certainly don’t.  In fact, that is the quickest way to irritate me.   I work in an acute mental health facility with adults who are generally in a state of increased anxiety and irritation.   How successful you will be working with a patient depends entirely on you and your presentation.

  1. Present yourself as being calm and relaxed within this environment.   Appear comfortable in your body posture.  People will generally mirror behavior and will feed off of your vibe.   Unless you are finding yourself in immediate danger, do not panic.
  2. Listen to what your patients are saying and take note of what they are not saying.  When discussing an issue or behavior it is probable that an individual does not specify details that are important or specific personal history.   Maybe it is uncomfortable for them or they don’t see it is being relatable to the conversation.
  3. Do not assume anything and ask questions.   Ask questions related to information that you suspect you are not being told.  If it is relative to a subject that could be uncomfortable to the individual, please do so privately.
  4. Build a rapport by adapting to that individual’s personality/sense of humor.   Being able to run a group therapy session and be successful is a skill.  It requires one to maintain stability within a group of individuals that are in crisis.  It requires a tremendous amount of flexibility and adaptability.  My fellow Rec Therapist, give yourselves a pat on the back!
  5. Stimulate Intrinsic Motivation.  This is the key!  Right here is where you become successful.  You must figure out how to guide a conversation in such a way that an individual is inspired to make changes based on their own findings.  They figured out how to successfully change their lives based on questions you have asked them.

It is your job keep giving them motivation.  Every time you motivate a patient and they discuss a healthier direction, you are successful.