Recently, Lisa Irving, Clinical Psychologist was asked to be the speaker for an event for the Australian Rehab Providers Association on the topic of Motivational Interviewing. (She aimed to keep people interested and get a few laughs and has been joking since that she might become a comedian yet!)

Lisa shared her experiences and knowledge of working with Worker’s Compensation clients, applying a Motivational Interviewing approach. She pointed out that motivational interviewing basically helps us, as professionals to be more human in our approach to help people makes changes and willingly make decisions.

In brief, some of the concepts shared, included:

The Five Principles of Motivational Interviewing:

• Express empathy through reflective listening.
• Develop discrepancy between clients’ goals or values and their current behaviour.
• Avoid argument and direct confrontation.
• Adjust to client resistance rather than opposing it directly.
• Support self-efficacy and optimism

Lisa spoke about how assessing a client’s readiness to change combined with helping them know how to go about change is what client’s really appreciate and apply.

Put simply – Motivational interviewing suggests that staying with where the person is at, and encouraging movement just one step further is more likely to realise change.

Most of us talk to people, as if they are at the fourth step (action) when they may be at step one (precontemplation). Directive speech is the most likely to receive resistance.

What are the steps of change?

Step One: Pre-contemplation

Pre-contemplation is when other people may be thinking about change for the person, but the person doesn’t see the need.

“No one understands me” is often the catch cry of a person in pre-contemplation

– Think of a smoker who enjoys smoking and feels annoyed if someone points out “it’s bad for you”.
– A worker who does not believe that they are ready to return to work. When you talk to them about returning to work, they experience you as not understanding the severity of their situation.

Step Two: Contemplation

Contemplation is where the person is beginning to consider reasons for change. With our smoker example, they might be noticing how much they cough and have trouble breathing, and thoughts of change are developing.

Possible questions that we might ask a person in this phase:

How do you think most people might react?
What’s your worst imagining? And how might you deal with their reaction?
How important is it for you to make this change?
What tells you, you are ready now.

Step Three: Planning

Planning is where the person has some feeling of conviction that they’d like to change and they are beginning to put things in place to make the change be realised.

Booking an appointment for hypnosis to help them let go of smoking, deciding to exercise and letting their friends know they want support could be possible examples.

What are the steps involved in your decision making?

In the case of a worker returning to work we might ask:

What types of questions the do you want to ask the employer to verify that the work is a good match for you?

Step Four: Action

Action is essentially putting the plan into action.

In the case of a worker exploring new work options, you might prompt them to consider:

What questions will you ask first?

How will you ensure that the interviewer has a good enough understanding of what you are asking?

Lisa received really positive feedback on her presentation and is looking forward to being invited for further presentations.


Please contact our friendly team at Revive if you would like to learn more about Motivational Interviewing.