Engagement Interviewing: Increasing Engagement and Retention of Clients in Mental Health Services

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Too often clients who could benefit from mental health services either fail to follow through with referrals for treatment or drop out of services prematurely. In this presentation, Dr. Bledsoe provides an overview of “engagement interviewing” that offers clients an opportunity to express the problems they are experiencing in their own words, explore and resolve barriers to entering mental health treatment – including their own ambivalence – and receive psychoeducation about their mental health diagnosis and treatment options. This approach incorporates ethnographic, motivational interviewing and psychoeducational techniques. Examples will focus on the use of this strategy with mothers of young children who are diagnosed with major depressive disorder, a population that has been historically difficult to engage in treatment.

Betsy (Sarah E.) Bledsoe, PhD, MSW, LCSW is Assistant Professor at UNC-CH School of Social Work. Dr. Bledsoe had worked in outpatient, primary health care, residential, and emergency shelter settings providing mental health and case management services for individuals and their families. Her current research is focused on the engagement and treatment of low-income adolescents with perinatal depression, engaging low-English proficiency Latina mothers in treatment for depression, and evidence-based practice.