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Building a motivational interviewing learning community for EPs

The Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers defines a learning community as a network of practitioners interested in the same topic, and the community can serve as both a resource and a forum for developing practice. 

After some energising and enthusiastic chats at the conference buffet in Copenhagen during their recent training to become members of the MINT, Cathy and Fi are collaborating to build an MI Learning Community for EPs. 

Become part of this learning community

If you have already undertaken some training in MI (at least half a day), you are welcome to join our MI Skills Club (MISC), which is a free community group for EPs wishing to practise their MI skills within a small and friendly group. There are MISC meeting dates on:

  • 8th March
  • 3rd May
  • 21st June

If you are just starting out on your MI journey, or you would like to refresh your skills, you can join our one-day Introduction and refresher training on Friday 27th September 2024.

What is motivational interviewing? 

Motivational interviewing (MI) is an evidenced-based, person-centred, and strengths-focused conversational style, which acknowledges that having mixed feelings (ambivalence) is a normal part of behaviour change and pursuing growth-focused goals. MI is described as “a particular way of talking with people about change and growth to strengthen their own motivation and commitment” (Miller & Rollnick, 2023, p. 3). 

MI embraces a humanistic, compassionate, collaborative, and empowering style, which assumes people know what is best for them and what is most important to them. It promotes the person’s own autonomy in deciding whether – and how – to change. 

How do EPs use MI? 

MI has its roots in person-centred approaches and was originally developed within the field of addiction  (Miller & Moyers, 2017). Over time MI has been applied to many other areas in the helping professions. There is a growing literature about MI in schools (e.g. Rollnick et al., 2016) and educational psychology (e.g. Thomas et al., 2019). The literature to date, has primarily focused on MI as a student-focused intervention (Snape & Atkinson, 2016), and, more recently, as a valuable approach in EP consultation (Jones & Atkinson, 2021). Excitingly now, and in-keeping with Miller and Rollnick’s (2023) fourth edition book, Cathy Atkinson and Fi Coley are seeking to promote and support the application of MI across broader areas of EP practice. 

Miller and Rollnick (2023) are expansively positioning MI as a conversational style, a way of being, and a way of doing what you do. Their new title, Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change and Grow, has included ‘growth’, signifying a shift away from purely behavioural change and toward more open and broad applications across the helping professions. 

With this in mind, Cathy and Fi are currently co-authoring a theoretical paper to outline diverse applications of MI across different areas of EP practice, such as using MI in supervision, coaching, training, senior leadership skills, school planning meetings and conversations to challenge oppressive practice. 

How do people learn MI? 

Because MI is a conversational style, rather than a discrete skill, it is not something that can be mastered by attending a one-off training session. While MI is a learnable approach, it takes practice, reflection and supervision to improve. People with good skills in empathic listening will have a headstart in learning MI. Learning MI on your own is hard, and receiving objective feedback and expert feedback are helpful in developing and maintaining competence in MI (Miller & Rollnick, 2023).

Find out more information and join the MI Skills club

Find out more about the introduction and refresher day course

References and Further Reading 

Jones, L., & Atkinson, C. (2021). Using Motivational Interviewing Within School Consultations. Journal of Educational and Psychological Research, 3(1), 212–218.

Miller, W. R., & Moyers, T. B. (2017). Motivational interviewing and the clinical science of Carl Rogers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85(8), 757–766.

Rollnick, S., Kaplan, S., & Rutschman, R. (2016). Motivational Interviewing in Schools. Guilford Press.

Snape, L., & Atkinson, C. (2016). The evidence for motivational interviewing in educational settings: a review of the literature. Advances in School Mental Health, 9(2), 119–139.

The Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT). (2019). Creating a motivational interviewing learning community: Guidance from the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT).

Thomas, G., Atkinson, C., & Allen, C. (2019). The motivational interviewing practice of UK educational psychologists. In Educational and Child Psychology (Vol. 36, Issue 3).

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