What IS the difference between being directive versus directional in your conversations with clients?
In the latest Motivational Interviewing Forum co-author of MI Bill Miller discussed how essential directional statements are to change.
In motivational interviewing we try to stay neutral in giving “directions” toward a specific outcome as it is human nature not to want to be told what to do. After all – advice is the junk mail of life, right? If you tell someone how and why they should do something it is likely they will tell you why it won’t work for them.
So how is being “directional” different? Making directional questions and reflections “pulls” for change and hope in conversations. What exactly does this look like?
A directional question might be “How would you like things to be different in your life?” or “What gets your attention about your health?”
A directional reflection might be, “You came here today because you wanted your life to be different than it is right now” or “You’re trying to overcome X and are looking for the roadmap of how to get there.”
We have our eye on the horizon for hope and change all the while holding a space for autonomy for what that looks like for a client. Although it is challenging to stay neutral, research shows when we hold that space the client’s decision is usually toward change.
Intentional directional statements can create an environment of hope and health for a future when bleakness walks into the room. Motivational Interviewing has a proven track record with over 1700 clinical controlled trials showing its efficacy. In a world of vagueness and challenges I’d say that’s one less piece of junk mail for a client to receive.