This post was contributed by WN4DC Symposium intern Hannah Frazee.

Motivational interviewing allows for intentional interactions, and learning MI gives you purposeful skills used to help motivate change from within.

Do you meet your client where they are at, leading them along the journey by holding their hand and acting merely as a guide?

Alternatively, do you find yourself needing to dominate the conversation, using your credentials as a means to show power in the conversation? If it is the latter, motivational interviewing, also known as MI, could be an intentional and impactful way to change the way you interact with your clients.

How can MI improve the way you provide diabetes care? Motivational interviewing allows you to stop making assumptions about your clients past, present, and future. Dana Sturtevant, a dietitian and founder at Be Nourished located in Portland, Oregon, points out that MI allows for intentional interactions, and learning MI gives you purposeful skills used to help motivate change from within.

Seventy percent of listening is non-verbal.

One way to become more intentional with interactions is to actively listen, not just hear. Dana points out that listening is not just based on what a client says; “Seventy-percent of listening is non-verbal.” Distraction, both physical and mental, takes away the possibility of having an intentional interaction with clients because the non-verbal cues are missed.

Another way to improve interactions with clients is to talk less. Clients are influenced by what they hear themselves say, not by what is said to them. Talking less, and providing space for the client to contemplate change, increases the opportunity for the client to be influenced by what they say.

When it comes to improving client interactions, knowing the role that the professional plays is important. As Dana mentions, “Healthcare professionals are trained to talk to patients as if they are ready to change.” However, in reality, most enter in the contemplation stage, meaning they are still really unsure if the change is necessary. The professional’s role is rooted not in forcing the change to happen, but instead giving space for the client to explore the possibility of change.

Ultimately, the client knows their body best.

Motivational interviewing means the professional has to be willing to take a step back and allow the client to take control of their ability to change. Instead of trying to dominate the conversation and force the client to change, they have to listen and recognize that ultimately the client knows their body best. For professionals who want to truly empower their clients, motivational interviewing is an excellent tool to possess.

The WN4DC Symposium offers in-depth courses, weight neutral coaching and the 2021 WN4DC Symposium.

Hannah Frazee is a sophomore student studying Dietetics at Iowa State University. She believes in the Health at Every Size paradigm and is especially interested in how systemic oppression impacts health outcomes. In the future, Hannah hopes to work as an eating disorder practitioner and is especially interested in working within the intersection of diabetes and eating disorders.