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Format: Self-paced / asynchronous program
Engage with this recorded program on your schedule.

Online Course Available button with UNC School of Social Work Logo and blue arrowCE: 12 CEs total, read for more information on CEs
$180 total, read for more information on fees and scholarships

Description: When people consider making a change, they often weigh the pros and cons of maintaining versus letting go of the status quo. Yet many well-intended helpers experience resistance when they advocate for the pro side of making a change; with receivers typically strengthening their argument for the status quo. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based collaborative counseling style that escapes this struggle with clients. Instead, it taps into people’s own good reasons and motivation to change, in a respectful and curious manner, in the context of an accepting and compassionate relationship, without instructing, warning, or advising the person on what they should or should not do. Over four sessions, Teresa Donegan will use a “show/tell/try” approach to introduce both the spirit of MI and the four processes that begin with engaging and end with planning for change. Participants will have ample opportunities to practice the skills and techniques in “real plays” and to share what they are learning in debriefing sessions. The goal of the training is that you walk away with tools and skills that you can incorporate into your current practice. Throughout, Teresa will draw from research on the use of MI as a cross-cultural practice with adaptations that consider intersectionality.

Learning Objectives: At the end of the training participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the four processes of MI—Engaging, Focusing, Evoking, and Planning
  2. Use at least two different levels of reflecting to increase engagement
  3. Assess a person’s level of readiness to change (using Prochaska’s model) and incorporate into approach
  4. Recognize conversations that fuel resistance (“the righting reflex/paradoxical response”)
  5. Practice accurate empathy to strengthen rapport
  6. Identify 1-2 elements of the “spirit” of MI
  7. Practice “OARS” skills in therapeutic practice
  8. Recognize talk that signifies a person’s willingness and readiness to change (“change talk”)
  9. Recognize signals of disharmony (discord) in collaborative relationships and two ways to respond
  10. Reflect discrepancy in the ways things are and the way a person wants it to be.

Trainer: Teresa Donegan, Ph.D. is a consultant and trainer in motivational interviewing and a member of M.I.N.T (Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers). She was a professor in higher education for 31 years until she left academia in June 2019. She received a Master’s and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Duquesne University and taught the “human dimensions of patient care” as well as health prevention and promotion to health providers during the last 17 years of her academic tenure. Prior to that, she taught 13 different courses in psychology. She started teaching Motivational Interviewing to pharmacy students at the University of Pittsburgh and extended her work to students in dietetic, chiropractic, physical therapy, and nursing programs. She has trained over 2000 health/mental health care providers including pharmacists, nurse care coordinators, dietitians, social workers, case managers, health coaches, and behavioral health consultants. Outside of teaching, she practiced psychotherapy in diverse settings and conducted research on program evaluations and addictions. Currently, she is also a personal and professional development coach.


Part 1 – Engaging
Introduction to MI- what it is, assumptions, approach
Spirit of MI and communication styles
Practices with engaging

Debriefing and processing

Part 2 – Focusing with MI
Affirmation, reflection
Values and discord
Focusing and agenda setting / mapping

Debriefing and processing

Part 3 – Evoking
Change talk and ambivalence
Experiential practice
Evoking change talk and application

Debriefing, processing

Part 4 – Planning and putting it all together
Stages of change
Experiential practices
Values and card sort
Review, discussion, wrap up


    • Arkowitz, H., Miller, W.R., Rollnick, S. (Eds.) (2015) Motivational interviewing in the treatment of psychological problems (2nd Ed.) New York: The Guilford Press.
    • Frielink, N., & Embregts, P. (2013). Modification of motivational interviewing for use with people with mild intellectual disability and challenging behaviour. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 38(4), 279-291.
    • Hohman, M. (2021) Motivational interviewing in social work practice (2nd ed.) New York: The Guilford Press.
    • Miller, W. & Rollnick, S. (2013) Motivational interviewing: Helping people change (3rd ed.) New York: The Guilford Press.
    • Naar-King, S., Suarez, M. (2011) Motivational interviewing with adolescents and young adults. New York: The Guilford Press.
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    • Surace, A., Zelaya, D. G., Guy, A. A., Mastroleo, N. R., Durst, A., Pantalone, D. W., Monti, P. M., Mayer, K. H., & Kahler, C. W. (2022). Examining the impact of race on motivational interviewing implementation and outcomes with HIV+ heavy drinking men who have sex with men. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(7), 3930.
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