Motivational Interviewing Monthly

Newsletter from Watson Wellness Promotion

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Most introductory Motivational Interviewing trainings will include exposure to the acronym: OARS, which stands for open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections, and summaries. These four behaviors make up what we call the "microskills" of Motivational Interviewing. In this newsletter, we'll closely examine the purpose of affirmations, which are statements by the provider which recognize a strength in the client.

  • "It is impressive that you came in for your appointment today, since I know that you are feeling down."
  • "You are the kind of person who thinks carefully before taking action. You're cautious and responsible."
  • "Even though life has really knocked you down, you are strong enough to get back up."
  • "It seems like you're an easy-going person. You go with the flow of things really easily."

How are Affirmations Useful?

Affirmations are not merely kind words-- evidence shows that they are effective interventions to promote behavior change. In fact, Apodaca et al. (2013) found that affirmations were the only "micro-skill that both increased change talk and also reduced sustain talk." Therefore, when a provider offers an affirmation, it is very likely that the environment is quite conducive for exploring change.
Affirmations Practice

About Kate Watson, Owner of Watson Wellness Promotion

Kate earned her graduate degree in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University and is currently completing her doctorate in Health Policy and Social Justice from Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health in Philadelphia. Kate is an Assistant Professor at Peirce College, and her areas of academic interest include gender-based violence, sexual assault response, and trauma-informed practice. She is an on-going consultant to several medical schools across the country, as well as the United States National Guard’s Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy Program. Since joining the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers in 2011, Kate launched her consulting company: Watson Wellness Program, and she has conducted Motivational Interviewing workshops with nurses, physicians, dentists, victim advocates, members of the military, police officers, teachers, correctional officers, case managers, and advocates for the homeless.