I recently attended a training where we talked a lot about micro-aggressions on college campuses (Dela Pena, Travers, Welch, 2017). It was during this training that I first learned of the term micro-affirmations. In the world of Motivational Interviewing (MI) we talk a lot about intentional affirmations as statements highlighting a person’s characteristics, values, and hard work. Unlike these “macro affirmations” offered in MI, micro affirmations are more nuanced and subtle and they aim to validate experiences of others within a power structure. Since attending this training and learning a bit more about micro affirmations and micro aggressions, I think that those of us practicing MI and other helping strategies would do well to consider using some of these ideas in our approaches. In this article I will discuss the idea of micro-aggressions. Then I will focus a bit on what micro-affirmations are and some ways to use them. Finally, I will discuss some ways that these ideas may be included in an MI training.
Challenging Conversations and Complex Compassion: Revisiting the LARA (Listen Affirm Respond Add) Guidelines for Use in Diversity Dialogues
Communicating with someone with a different viewpoint can be challenging, and most of us can understand this from experience. Maybe you dabbled in politics at the thanksgiving table with family members who have drastically different perspectives on the role of government than your own. Perhaps you have experience sharing some religious differences with someone who was equally convicted of their faith (or lack thereof). Heck, for some people bringing up the success of a rival sports team can set the tone for an angry exchange of words.
Recently I started a new position at a local university as an Applied Learning Facilitator in the Office of Field Education for graduate level social work students. Naturally as a Motivational Interviewing (MI) enthusiast, I immediately looked for ways to incorporate my MI passion into my new job. One of my primary roles in this position is to act as a field advisor to practicum students, and I believe that MI could fit quite naturally in the 30 minute advising appointments that I have with students. I believe that by utilizing some MI skills and the MI spirit, an advisor such as myself can be more student-centered and more effective in helping students in their professional growth and development. What follows is a review of some literature written on using MI in advising-type roles, and toward the end of this article I have included some of my thoughts on how I and other advisors might use MI in the advising appointment.
Mindfulness has been trending in popular western culture recently. It is promoted as almost a panacea; mindfulness is said to help with everything from pain management to burnout prevention to psychotherapy and self-help. Indeed, the latest research indicates that mindfulness can play a part in helping folks with a variety of conditions such as obesity, anxiety, and even preschool learning outcomes – so clearly this mindfulness trend is not only hype (for more information on latest research see American Mindfulness Research Association). This article will first explore manifestations of mindfulness in some of the "third wave" therapeutic approaches, and will conclude with a description of some ways that mindfulness is an important (yet not explicit) part of good Motivational Interviewing (MI) practice.
As an MI enthusiast, I am always seeking opportunities to practice OARS skills. As a supervisor of 8 clinicians, the primary way that I interact with individuals one-on-one is during supervision, so it naturally fits that I have taken advantage of this time to practice the use of OARS. At first this practice was clumsy and awkward, and after about 6 months of practicing this 8 times weekly, it continues to be challenging yet rewarding. I find that when I am able to use OARS with staff, it helps them to develop their inner locus of control, builds their perceived self efficacy and helps to strengthen the relationship between supervisor and supervisee. I have found that using OARS with staff is the most efficient way of communicating information and the use of these skills yields better results from the supervision conversation.
Jesse Jonesberg (Berg) is a mental health professional, field instructor, trainer, and MINT member. He is passionate about issues of mental health, cultural humility, compassion, and motivational interviewing.
Jesse Jonesberg (Berg) is a member of the MINT network and active member of the MINT IDAC.
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