An evaluation of workshop training in motivational interviewing for addiction and mental health clinicians
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This entry is our analysis of a study considered particularly relevant to improving outcomes from drug or alcohol interventions in the UK. The original study was not published by Findings; click Title to order a copy. Free reprints may be available from the authors – click prepared e-mail. The summary conveys the findings and views expressed in the study. Below is a commentary from Drug and Alcohol Findings.

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An evaluation of workshop training in motivational interviewing for addiction and mental health clinicians.

Baer J.S., Rosengren D.B., Dunn C.W. et al.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence: 2004, 73(1), p. 99–106.
Unable to obtain a copy by clicking title? Try asking the author for a reprint by adapting this prepared e-mail or by writing to Dr Baer at

US study suggests that when it comes to choosing therapists, choosing the 'right' people who have not been trained in motivational interviewing would be better than choosing the 'wrong' people who have been trained; the former not only start at a higher level, but are more able to benefit from and retain training.

Summary A US study of a workshop on motivational interviewing whose participants were mainly addiction treatment specialists confirmed the rapid erosion of improvements in practice and added an intriguing insight into the importance of choosing the right raw material. Trainees demonstrated their motivational interviewing skills with actor-clients before the workshop, at the end, and two months later, when most indicators of how far they had absorbed the approach's principles and techniques were no longer significantly elevated. However, this was not the case for all the trainees.

Based on their last audiotapes, eight of the 19 had retained their proficiency in motivational interviewing. The interesting thing was that even before the training, these clinicians had been more proficient than the other trainees – in fact, they were already more proficient than the rest would be two months after training. Not only did they start from a higher level, they went on to absorb and retain more of what they had learnt.

Findings logo commentary On the basis of these findings, given a choice between choosing the 'right' people who have not been trained in motivational interviewing, and the 'wrong' people who have, the former would be the better choice. It seems that some people are more receptive to this approach in their everyday lives, and that the same people are more able to become yet more proficient. In contrast, within months much of the training was wasted when it fell on less fertile human ground.

Last revised 18 February 2013. First uploaded 18 February 2013

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