MI Training Expectations

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The Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) is an international organization of trainers sharing an interest in improving the quality and effectiveness of counseling and consultations given to clients about behavior change. Members are enrolled in MINT after a formal training of trainers program and continue to improve the quality of their workshops and consultations through a variety of professional development opportunities within the organization. There are many ways to develop skillful MI practice abilities.

On-site MI Training with Ongoing Consultation – We share in the belief that ongoing on-site consultation is the best method to facilitate improvement in the practice of motivational interviewing and brief behavior consultations.

Introduction to Motivational Interviewing (1 hour to 1 day) – Training of up to one day can acquaint the audience with basic concepts and methods of MI, but is unlikely to increase the clinical skillfulness of participants in practicing MI. The purpose of this type of workshop is to help participants determine how interested they are in learning more about MI. We provide exercises that practitioners can try with patients to get a “taste” of an MI style. We include didactic presentations and live and/or videotaped demonstrations of MI.

Introduction to MI – Training Option (Introductory Workshop of 2-3 days) – With 16-24 hours of training contact time, it is possible to provide participants with an understanding of the spirit and method of MI, and to offer some practical experience in trying out this approach. A reasonable goal for this level of training is not MI proficiency, but rather to “learn how to learn” MI from ongoing practice. Expect a mix of didactic presentation, demonstration, and practice exercises. A limited number of participants per trainer will allow some opportunity for observation and feedback. Training is provided in blocks of 4 hours or so, with opportunity in between for participants to practice MI and come back with experience and problems (for example, 4-4-4-4 sessions of 4 hours each spread over 4 months]. Many organizations also choose to contract for full day concurrent workshops. While practical for attendees, this learning option reduces the applicability and retention of MI practice compared to dividing sessions with personal practice in between. Research indicates a reduction in MI skill level within 4 months (Miller & Mount, 2001). Adding opportunities for personal performance feedback (e.g. from tapes) and/or individual coaching can significantly increase the effectiveness of training in helping participants to improve their clinical proficiency.

Intermediate and Advanced Training – Intermediate/Advanced Clinical Training (2-3 days). For those who have learned the fundamentals of MI and practiced it over time and now seek more advanced training in MI, these trainings include analysis of practice audio and/or videotapes. Expect more demonstration and practice exercises, and less didactic material. Focus in advanced training is on differentiating change talk from commitment language, and learning how to elicit and shape the two. Prior proficiency and experience in the practice of MI are assumed. Ongoing consultation and supervision is open-ended. Research indicates feedback and individualized training are most effective for gaining MI skills. This type of consultation can happen individually, within an organization, or contracted in addition to any workshop. We offer individual consultation in person, over the phone, or through computer mediated communication such as video calls, digital audio or video recordings. This allows for the most thorough adaptation of MI methods to specifics of the individual situation.

MI Supervisor Training (2-3 days) – Designed for people who have responsibility for the ongoing training and supervision of clinicians providing MI. The goal is to prepare an on-site expert supervisor who can continue to guide and shape the practice of clinicians in a program or system. Training includes expertise in systems for monitoring and coding session tapes for clinical practice. Prior proficiency and experience in the practice of MI are assumed.

MI Coder Training (2-3 days) – These workshops focus on fidelity monitoring and process coding of MI as delivered in research protocols. Training may focus on one or more systems including the MITI or MISC.

Questions you might wish to ask potential MI trainers before hiring them.[Suggestions submitted by MINT members Carolina Yahne and Denise Ernst]

  • Who will comprise our audience? (substance abuse nurses; diabetes educators; probation officers; graduate students in psychology; HIV counselors; public health doctors; street outreach workers, etc)
  • What experience do you have working with trainees such as ours and what are some of the issues you see related to training our type of group?
  • In what ways can you tailor your training and materials for us?
  • If a trainee presented you with this kind of challenge [xx], how would you handle it?
  • Were you trained to be an MI trainer or is this a training you have developed on your own? How can I verify this?
  • In addition to your training, have you written/published anything about MI or related issues? How may I get a copy?
  • Can you send us a sample of training objectives and an agenda?
  • Is there anyone who can provide a reference based on a past training you’ve provided?
  • How flexible are you about scheduling training? For example, if we are only able to make staff available during staff meetings once a month, what can you do?
  • What are your fees? What expenses do you anticipate?
  • What work do you do other than MI training? Do you work in a health care setting, research, or something else?

Adapted from the MINT website at http://www.motivationalinterviewing.org/training-expectations.