Compassion, It's Not Just for Those We Serve: Using Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) in our Motivational Interviewing (MI) Practice.
As practitioners of Motivational Interviewing (MI), we aim to help others through compassion. Whether we are trainers, case workers, supervisors, physical therapists or play other roles, we practice MI as a skillful way to express our desire to be of benefit to others. We are united by our aim to reduce suffering and increase happiness in those we serve. But do we extend this same compassionate intention to ourselves?
A note about this post…
I have not written a blog article in nearly 3 years, interestingly enough this length of time is close to the age of my daughter! I have also changed jobs, recovered from COVID, and moved to a new city. As I begin to gain my stability as a new father in a new city, I hope to start to write with more frequency. The article below is my first writing since my 3 year “sab-dad-ical.” It was very fulfilling to put some of these ideas on paper, and I hope that others will benefit from some of these ideas as well.
Compassion and MI
Motivational Interviewing is how I was first introduced in a deep and meaningful way to the concept of compassion. The helping approach outlined by Miller and Rollnick’s writing on MI seemed like a compassion “how to” manual of sorts. Not only did MI emphasize the importance of a compassionate spirit (what Dr. Miller has often referred to as the “way of being with another”), the practice of MI offered tangible practices that can be ways of “doing compassion.” These practices include using reflections, open ended questions, affirmations, and summaries (OARS), avoiding traps to engagement, seeking consent before giving information and others. MI also pointed me towards a path to follow when practicing compassion with others – Engage, Focus, Evoke, and Plan (the MI processes). Having the MI presence, practices, and path helped me to become more effective and intentional with how I helped others. It seemed to me at this time that compassion was seeking to deeply understand someone without judgment and taking steps towards helping that person (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). MI has a very practical and other-oriented definition of compassion:
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.
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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