Change Talk in Motivational Interviewing

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Change Talk in motivational interviewing is an important element in any effective counseling process. There are different types of change talk and therapists use each type depending on the client’s needs and goals. These kinds of change talks include self-talk, social thinking, and personal development or growth. Therapists behave in ways that help the client progress toward a more positive outcome. Change talk assists in releasing the rope’s tension. The more we try to pull the client in our direction, the more they will oppose. As a result, change discussion allows us to retain the tension in the rope. And presumably, as we do so, the client will begin to change for the better. This blog will give you a clear idea about what is change talk in motivational interviewing.

What is Change Talk?

Change Talk is a communication pattern that has the power to help clients change their behavior. The idea of Change Talk originated from Motivational Interviewing, a counseling technique used to support clients in making changes. The goal of Change Talk is to help the client see the need for change and overcome any doubts or fears that they have about changing their behavior. So, we can say that change talk refers to words or actions taken by the therapists to reduce resistance and move clients in a good direction.

In other words, client talk that tends toward change is known as change talk. It sounds simple, yet we don’t always hear it. I’m sometimes so preoccupied with other things, like paperwork, that I forget about it. According to research, change discussion is linked to a stronger desire for change, and motivation is linked to an increased possibility of real change. This backs up MI’s focus on listening for and generating change discussion as essential counselling skills. Miller & Rollnick, 2013; Moyers et al., 2009

Why is Change Talk Important in Motivational Interviewing?

In order to get the most out of the individual counseling sessions, it is helpful to think carefully about what the client wants and how they will need help to achieve these objectives. During a typical session, therapists use many types of change talk and it will vary based on whether the person is looking for external help or a more focused program of work.

The basic premise behind all change talk is that the client needs to have a better understanding of themselves as well as of the problems they’re facing. To take this further step, a counselor may begin with self-talk. A therapist can engage their clients in conversations about what they would like to accomplish, what challenges and problems bring them up, and what kind of results they would hope for or want to see. When used in conjunction with other kinds of counseling, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), change talk can help clients understand why they made certain choices and move toward finding new solutions to current issues. During Self-Talk, a counselor can encourage their clients to reflect on any concerns or feelings that they may be having and then help them identify and address those issues, so they no longer feel helpless.

How to Conduct Change Talk

Let’s start with an example – a male whose wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer and who wanted to find a job that he enjoyed doing but didn’t want to leave home because of his age. He explained to the counselor that he found employment at his local grocery store when he was 18 years old but wasn’t able to enjoy it and felt he wouldn’t be able to find fulfilment if he left home. The primary reason for him leaving home was because of his aging parents. As a result, he is now working at Target, which allows him to make $17.50 per hour. However, this particular job doesn’t pay enough to live on a consistent basis, but he feels he should be able to save enough money to cover everything, not just for himself.

Now, think about it…

The best approach for this particular client would be one of positive reinforcement and encouragement. One way to do this is to praise his ability to earn money and provide for himself. It is easy to become attached and believe your own worth when we see someone else succeed. For instance, say something like “I love helping people” as you praise your role as an employee at Walgreens. If my husband’s job doesn’t pay enough to keep us afloat, I might want to consider changing careers altogether. Praising the effort he makes encourages him to improve, even if it means starting another part-time job. Another possibility is reminding him that being financially dependent on others can lead to loneliness and depression if you don’t do things for yourself and have very little self-esteem.

During the conversation, the counselor can give hints about how to improve his financial situation and to start small things to boost self-esteem and self-efficacy. In his interview, the man mentioned that his only problem was having to go back to work to support his family in the afternoons. His response was, “I am tired of going back to work”, and that he felt motivated enough to start a side business, where he would have more flexibility for afternoons. Being flexible on both ends of the spectrum can lead to greater satisfaction in life. Having a plan for everything can make you feel that you have control over your future.

This client would receive a lot more encouragement than if he started off with negative thoughts of his place in life. Instead, he suggested talking about ways to get closer to his retirement age. Once again, his words were powerful:

“I think I am going to really miss having a good retirement. That’s why I want to have a bigger income and a larger retirement income. Maybe we could put together all the money and make sure it’s enough to last me the rest of my days and make sure I have some money for myself.”

This gentleman is using change talk to build self-confidence. Because his employer isn’t paying what they should be, he feels that he may not have a job next year. But since he has already talked about it with the counselor, he believes that he knows what the options are to make sure he gets a good job that fits his current circumstance.

This client is talking about changing himself and his mindset. Because his main concern after getting fired from his job is that he feels depressed and alone, he needs to reexamine his career path. After thinking long and hard about moving forward with his plans, it seems like he believes his career won’t be as happy as it was in college. So, he wants to increase his paycheck so he can spend more time with his family. Since he hasn’t been able to make any progress and there has been no change in the position of the company he works for, he doesn’t want to waste his last dime.

This counselor would use social thinking in this conversation to encourage the client to make a conscious effort to fulfil his dreams. Social thinking focuses on how our lives are shaped by the choices we make, so it can be useful to make choices, even if you don’t know how to pick the right ones. Most importantly, though, it can help people focus on what they want instead of worrying about making decisions about what others will think about them. Social thinking gives us something to strive for instead of focusing only on having money and having it because it teaches us to look at a situation with everyone involved, including ourselves.

This client has struggled with finding a meaningful and satisfying career. She was frustrated when she couldn’t find a place that she liked and she hoped that the extra income would allow her to have more free time to pursue her interests. Her current situation makes her want to explore potential careers, but she knows that there aren’t enough jobs in the field she desires. So, when she is offered an entry-level position at a grocery store, she understands that she may be able to change herself and meet her goals by taking charge of the store and managing it herself. While she did accept the offer, she realized that the hours and responsibility would require a great deal of planning and organization. With the extra responsibilities came additional training.

This would be a great opportunity for change talk, particularly if she is looking for more flexibility in day-to-day tasks. In addition to trying something new, she should also attempt to do whatever she can to enhance the customer experience. For instance, she can add an activity or product to the store so clients can enjoy shopping without feeling hurried around. This would probably require some planning to keep track of what inventory items are needed, so she would require some help to ensure that the order is done exactly as it should be. As a result, she would likely feel happier and more satisfied if she had someone to manage the supply and make sure everything was properly maintained. An added bonus would be seeing the brand that she loves to thrive in the grocery industry. Even working as a cashier at local grocery stores, I think working with a boss that values the office and staff would be very rewarding

Final Thoughts on Change Talk in Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing Techniques are a set of strategies that are designed to help people change their behavior. It is a collaborative approach to minimize the resistance of the client and promote their readiness for change. Therapists act in ways that assist the client in moving toward a more favorable conclusion. Change discourse aids in the release of rope tension. The more we attempt to persuade the client to follow us, the more they will resist. As a consequence, the rope’s tension may be maintained via change debate. And, perhaps, the client will improve as a result of our efforts.


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