|Motivational Interviewing: 3 simple steps to lasting change
an instructor, how many times have you found it difficult to convince
your students to change their fitness routines or try something new?
Most of us encourage change by pleading our case based upon the goals
that we assume our students have. Sometimes this works, but more often
it doesn’t. Why not?
too often, we assume that as Spinning® program experts, we inherently
know what motivates people without asking them. The problem with this
mindset is that when we do all of the talking, we miss what is most
important to our students and run the risk of pointing them in a
direction that isn’t right for them.
interviewing, a technique that is widely used in counseling, can help
Spinning instructors facilitate success with even the most challenging
students. Motivational interviewing is defined as a direct,
client-centered counseling style that aims to elicit behavioral change
by helping clients explore and resolve ambivalence. Developed in 1991
by Stephen Rollnick, Ph.D. and William R. Miller, Ph.D., the tactic’s
original intention was to help problem drinkers. Today
motivational interviewing is widely used by psychologists, dietitians
and other health professionals. By understanding three of motivational
interviewing’s key components, you’ll facilitate more productive
dialogue and goal setting with your students.
1. Employ Open-Ended Questions
“yes or no” questions rarely lead to new and useful information and
have the potential to direct individuals to answer in a certain way.
Open-ended questions tend to yield information and insight that will
better enable you to help your students.
2. See Both Sides
key component of motivational interviewing involves exploring the pros
and cons of a specific behavior change. For example, if beginning an
exercise program was the change in question, ask your student to weigh
the pros and cons of inactivity against the pros and cons of
beginning an exercise program.
completing this exercise you'll be better equipped to use
motivation strategies specific to your student's set of values and
beliefs. Additionally, this gives you an opportunity to dispel any
myths or misconceptions. In many cases your student may
become motivated through verbalizing and/or seeing their own list of
pros and cons regarding a specific change.
a list of pros and cons is determined, you can integrate importance and
confidence scales. For example, if you’re working with an
inactive person you might ask, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is
it that you become active?” and then work to figure out why the student
answered the way that they did. You’ll also want to determine what
would need to happen for the importance to increase or decrease. Again
these questions are open-ended, inviting your student to do most of the
student’s confidence regarding his or her ability to achieve their
goals can be assessed in a similar way. For instance, you might
ask, “On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that you can achieve
your goal?” This gives you the opportunity to delve into what factors
would be needed to increase the student’s confidence level for
out more about our students is critical for their success—and yours as
an instructor. Using open-ended questions, creating a student-produced
list of pros and cons and employing importance and confidence scales
can go a long way towards facilitating change. If nothing else,
remember that the best chance for success comes from finding out more
about the students we work with before attempting to help them.
Ward, RD, LDN, CLC has been a Spinning Master Instructor for 7 years
and is the author of the Spinning 8-Week Weight Loss Program She
resides in Pittsfield, MA with her husband and baby boy, Brendan. She
can be contacted at [email protected].