Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Motivational Interviewing

Norbert Beuchel-Wagner, an Addiction counselor from Germany spoke in my class tonight. It was very interesting hearing about how addiction is counseled in Germany. One of the main themes was Motivational Interviewing.

The concept of motivational interviewing evolved from experience in the treatment of problem drinkers, and was first described by Miller (1983) in an article published in Behavioural Psychotherapy. Motivational interviewing is a directive, client-centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence. Compared with nondirective counselling, it is more focused and goal-directed. The examination and resolution of ambivalence is its central purpose, and the counselor is intentionally directive in pursuing this goal. Motivational interviewing is a client-centered, directive method for enhancing intrinsic motivation to change by exploring and resolving ambivalence.

Another thing I learned is that in Germany they focus largely on prevention. Prevention starts in the family. In how you act around your children, the things you inadvertantly teach them, and the values they learn. Parents are a model for their children. This is so true. How many times have you heard of a father telling his son or daughter to go grab him a beer because he had a long day at work? What is this teaching the child?

Another prevention program Germany has is to teach the adolescents to teach their peers and younger school age children. I think this is a great idea. Who do 6th and 5th and 4th graders look up to? Of course the high schoolers! They are bigger, smarter, and cooler, in the eyes of the younger kids!

One last thing before I go, In Germany there's a new policy in their addiction treatments. When someone comes in for alcoholism or another substance abuse, they are dually treated for nicotine cessation as well. They have to sign a contract agreeing to this if they want the treatment. How great is that? What point is it to help someone quit drinking or using when they are still killing themselves with nicotine? I think the U.S. would benifit from adopting this policy.