Friday, November 01, 2013


Sometimes the universe will cooperate in the most surprising ways. Sometimes it will even do this for me! Because of this, I am currently reading, and fully enjoying a book: Miller, W.R. & Rollnick, S. (2012) Motivational Interviewing, Third Edition: Helping People Change published by The Guilford Press The cooperation of the universe began in early October when one of the participants at a hope workshop I facilitated for the BC Therapeutic Recreation Association came forward at the break to ask me if I was familiar with motivational interviewing. I tucked the question away, knowing I might never get around to checking it out. Nearing the probable end of my paid working life, I find myself a little less motivated to keep up with current literature than I once was. Then, in mid-October, my sister mentioned that patrons of the CNIB Library could get free memberships in Book Share. I tucked that idea away also, knowing I might never get around to checking it out. For the first time in my life, due to amazing technical advances, I actually have ready access to more books than I can read given the limitations of a 168-hour week. But it came to pass that I did investigate Book Share, and they had the first book I searched for, Motivational Interviewing. Motivational interviewing is “A collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person’s own motivation and commitment to change.” It is a person-centred approach, one that suits my way of doing things. Noting the fruitless hours we spend trying to convince others to do the thing that seems most obviously right to us, the authors wisely observe that “People are more likely to be persuaded by what they hear themselves saying.” The book is a guide for people who want to conduct better conversations, conversations that help people affirm for themselves what they want to do without making them feel as if they’ve been cut adrift by a counsellor who has no ideas. People are more likely to be persuaded by what they hear themselves saying. I know a lot about the truth of this statement. In counselling, clients do much better on those lucky days when you can guide them to chart their own path for change. And in my life, I have had the unfortunate experience of saying the same thing over and over in attempt to convince others, only to find that I have fully convinced myself of it. A long time ago, my good friend and Mentor, Ronna Jevne asked me to consider an idea that stopped me in my tracks. “Have you ever noticed,” she asked curiously, “that when something isn’t working, we tend to do more of it?” Of course the idea was, in itself, ridiculous. When something isn’t working, don’t we give up and try something else? Apparently not if we believe that the thing we are doing ought to work. In the months following my conversation with Ronna, I watched myself closely to see if I ever did more of something that wasn’t working. The truth refused to hide. It was in my house. A child would leave his socks on the floor. “Pick up your socks,” I would say. The socks might remain on the floor. “Pick up your socks,” I would say, louder this time, in case he had not heard. “In a minute,” he would say, and the socks would remain on the floor. “I told you to pick up your socks,” I would say in a very loud voice, as if the child’s hearing and memory might both have inexplicably been impaired. The truth followed me into meetings. “I think we should abandon the idea of celebrity hosts for our fund-raising,” I would say. “We could use our own board members and it would mean more.” The meeting would continue, with participants suggesting more and more celebs. ‘I think we should consider using our own board members,” I would say, a little louder, in case there might be a hearing problem, or possibly some difficulty understanding the language I had used the first time. And, thus I would go through life utterly convinced that the socks ought to be picked up and the board members ought to host. Funny how the world didn’t see things the way I did. Many years have passed since Ronna Jevne observed my work, or shared time at a meeting with me. Still, at least once a week, at home, in meetings, while I am supervising students, while I am counselling, she pops up on my shoulder and whispers in my ear: “Have you ever noticed that when something isn’t working, you tend to do more of it?” She said this to me just recently when I was feeling a little bit tired of it all, a little bit bored, resting on the theory that it is not worth my time to follow the latest book trends in professional practice. Funny how I never get tired of hearing it, never get tired on wondering what I ought to change. So now, I have access to audio copies of many professional titles in Book Share, and this fine, wise and practical book on motivational interviewing to enjoy. Sometimes the universe cooperates, and sometimes it takes a mentor, present or remembered, to get it going.

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