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Counsellor & Psychotherapist Accredited Practising Dietitian
PACFA Accredited Supervisor
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  • Issue 49: What Does Presence Sound Like?

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 01-Aug-2018

    In this issue I am extending on the beautiful Parker Palmer poem shared in Issue 48. If you missed it or would like a refresh you can take a peep in the blog listing below. In this 'poem' Palmer encourages us to work with presence rather than intervention, to be truly helpful when someone is stuck or struggling. This encouragement is deeply resonant with the spirit of MI and in this issue I thought it may be useful to bring this encouragement to life and offer a sample of what this may actually sound like in session with a client. This sample dialogue feature a practitioner working within the HAES ® approach to health. Read on for more.......

    Download Issue 49

  • Issue 48: When Change is Tough DON'T try Harder!

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 31-May-2018

    For this issue of Practice Pavestones I am sharing a beautiful piece of writing from activist, author and teacher Parker Palmer, for our reflective practice. Palmer invites us to consider the option of 'letting go' as practitioners when we may typically experience the urge to grasp tightly and push for more in search of an outcome for the clients we work with. I do hope you enjoy it.

    Download Issue 48

  • Issue 47: Looking for the resources for change? Affirm what sits in your client

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 31-Mar-2018

    When working in an MI framework we are actively steering a conversation towards the strengthening of a client's own motivations for change .....from within them. Rather than instilling motivation via our knowledge and enthusiasm, we are evoking it or drawing it out of the client. One way we can do this is by listening for and responding to change talk. In recent issues we have looked at responding to change talk by inviting our clients to 'say more please' by elaborating or giving examples (more in Issue 46).  This issue will feature a quick look at responding to change talk by affirming it.  When practicing affirming, rather than looking for problems and finding solutions we are 'looking for the good' and handing it back to the client - after all it is their resource!

    Download Issue 47

  • Issue 46: How to go slow to speed up with your client

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 30-Jan-2018

    An expression amongst MI practitioners, that some of you may have heard at a Pavestone training, goes something like this: 'When you hear change talk don't just sit there! DO SOMETHING!'. This is an evidence informed call to action for the practitioner. How WE respond to what we hear our clients say about change directly influences the appearance of more change talk, the strength of it and what a client may then do after session in the direction of change. It is amazing how often we miss opportunities to dig deeper and draw forth from the client. In this issue I will be introducing a fine tuning of the elaborative 'tell me more' question: asking your client for examples that may build towards the direction of change. Taking the time to do this can be a very efficient investment. 

    Download Issue 46

  • Issue 45: 'Thank YOU MI!' Find out what your colleagues are thanking MI for in 2017

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 06-Dec-2017

    I've planned a fun edition this issue, the last for 2017. It's all about saying thank you - such an important expression of this festive season. At the end of every MI 2 workshop, attendees are invited to write a thank you note to MI 'as if they met MI in the street, like an old friend'. It is a playful way to round off the days learning and always heart warming. For this issue I have selected some letter highlights to affirm and encourage your own work towards continuing to develop in a client centred direction. I really hope you enjoy it.

    Download Issue 45

  • Issue 44: The Trap of using MI to 'Fix' our Clients

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 31-Oct-2017

    This Issue is taking time out from our current exploration of the methodology or 'mind-set' of Motivational Interviewing. Inspired by recent discussions with colleagues in Ireland, this editorial offers some thoughts about the 'heart-set' of MI. In particular our practice of acceptance of our client's autonomy: why respecting this is vital and challenging and what it can feel like when we lose our way with embodying this attribute. I hope you find this month's editorial supportive and thought provoking.

     

    Download Issue 44

  • Issue 43: Referring on 'in partnership' when confidence building requires in depth work

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 30-Sep-2017

    Over recent issues (41 and 42) we have been exploring conversation options available to us within Motivational Interviewing when assisting clients expressing low confidence in their ability to change. In this issue we will be looking more closely at the challenge we may face if confidence building work is outside of our scope of practice. This may be particularly true when the behaviors our clients are trying to change are functional. In this challenge, our MI Spirit and framework can be a wonderful asset. Finding our client's own reason for attending therapy through a respectful, values based conversation can help a sometimes risky discussion flow with empathy and connection.  Read on for more about understating functional behaviours in a super soundtrack for this month.

    Download Issue 43

  • Issue 42: One Way to Build Confidence to Change from within your Client

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 31-Aug-2017

    Motivational Interviewing invites us as practitioners to have a deep belief in our client’s capacity to do well in their lives, if they so choose. In MI the therapist will put this belief into action and to go looking, with the client, for their resources and beliefs that would be an asset for the difficult task of behaviour change. This aspect of MI practice is highly relevant to our current exploration of the importance of confidence in our client's ability to change and the role we play as practitioners in optimising its development.  Last Issue 41 we took a look at skillful conversational options available to us when a client expresses low confidence in their ability to change. In this issue, I will be introducing a beautiful practice written by Bill Miller which you may find useful when helping your clients to develop confidence in their own ability to get some traction with important self-care behaviours.

    Read on for more....

    Download Issue 42

  • Issue 41: What if your Client is Not Confident about Change?

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 31-Jul-2017

    If you have been reading in sequence from Issue 39  you will be familiar with the skill of using scaling questions in MI to identify our clients' own thoughts about the importance of change in their lives and confidence for making that change. In Issue 40 we focused particularly on working with low importance for change. The challenge this issue's editorial will feature is: how do we work effectively with our client who believes strongly it is important to change but they are held back by a lack of confidence? Read on to explore some ideas of what MI might encourage us to do (and NOT do!) when this challenging scenario presents.

    Download Issue 41

  • Issue 40: What to do when change is NOT important to your client

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 30-Jun-2017

    In this issue we will be extending on our exploration of Scaling Questions introduced last newsletter.  These questions can be powerful invitations for our clients to connect more clearly to why change matters to them and where they are in the change process. So here's a wrinkle: what happens when our clients share with us that change is NOT that important to them? Read on to explore some ideas of what MI might encourage us to do (and NOT do!) when this challenging scenario presents. 

    Download Issue 40

  • Issue 39: How to 'Thicken the Story for Change' with Scaling Questions

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 31-May-2017

    Regular readers will be following the thread of discussions on the Evoking process of Motivational Interviewing over the past few newsletters. In this editorial I am going to be featuring a style of open questioning featuring 'change rulers' which can be powerful invitations for our clients to connect more clearly to why change matters to them and where they are in the change process.

    These questions, also referred to as Scaling Questions, are particularly oriented towards evoking from the client their own perspective on the importance of change and their confidence for making change. They can be powerful questions for evoking more change talk from the client. They can also serve as excellent indicators of where the client is at in their change process to enable us to 'dance in sync' with their stage of change.

    To read more download away!

    Download Issue 39

  • Issue 38: What Do You Say When a Client Just Wants To Be 'Told What To Do'?

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 30-Apr-2017

    What a challenge this common conundrum is - when a client insists that you 'just tell me what to do!'. When it comes to engaging in a sound Evoking process - this is a surefire derailment.

    Given the evidence is clear about the unhelpfulness of advising ambivalent clients, how do we skilfully reply? 

    In this issue we will be spending some time exploring how Motivational Interviewing may encourage us to respond to this request in a manner most likely to open a more fruitful discussion for our client's benefit.

    Read on to colour in some context to this question, learn about when giving information is good work and what we might do when it is NOT such good work.

    Download Issue 38

  • Issue 37: When a Client 'Won't Change' - Are You Getting What You Ask For?

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 31-Mar-2017

    February's Issue 36 introduced the concept of 'change language' and the first steps in working with this important aspect of dialogue with clients. Readers were encouraged to start by simply identifying Change Talk in their client's speech and to simply reflect it and ask for elaboration. This vital aspect of client perspective is at the core of the third process of Motivational Interviewing: Evoking. In this issue we will be exploring more about getting Change Talk alive and kicking in session. It is so obvious it seems too simple........just ASK FOR IT!  

    If you are feeling stuck with a client who is clinging to the status quo in their dialogue with you – it may prove fruitful to have a look at what you are asking for. 

    Download Issue 37

  • Issue 36: Listen Up! Your Client is Talking About Change

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 28-Feb-2017

    In January's Issue 35 we explored the Righting Reflex - the part of us that wants 'good things' for our client and the paradoxical impact this desire may have on promoting unhelpful behaviours for our ambivalent clients.

    We can manage our Righting Reflex by many skillful means. One such means is being able to attend to the 'change language' of our client. In this issue we are going to take a toe dip into what we mean by change language to equip you with some starting points if you are practising implementing MI into your counselling skill repertoire. Read on for more...

    Download Issue 36

  • Issue 35: Why Wanting The Best for our Clients can Trip Us (and them) Up

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 31-Jan-2017

    This editorial will be picking up the thread from Issue 33 in October which was the last newsletter to be exploring Focusing - the second process in Motivational Interviewing.  

    Once you have found a useful direction for a session with a client, what follows next? I am going to be exploring how things can quickly derail from this point, even though we have the very best intentions. In fact, maybe because of our best intentions! Puzzled? Read on for more.

    Downlaod Issue 35

  • Issue 34: 2016 Synopsis and CPD Quiz

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 02-Dec-2016

    This issue is our last for 2016. Keeping with tradition of 2014 & 2015 this edition collates a synopsis of the year's issues with handy links to each issue's full editorial and completes with a CPD Quiz. You can buy the quiz to test your knowledge and for APDs - convert your dedicated reading of Practice Pavestones into assessed CPD hours for your APD renewal.....just around the corner.

    But I have some sad news folks..............this will be the last year that the CPD Quiz will be published for subscribers unless there is a big increase in uptake. Do you have APD mates who are struggling to fill their assessed CPD hours for 2016? At $9.95 the 2016 Pavestones Quiz would have to be the most affordable assessed CPD on the market - not to mention fun, useful and super practical.

    Please support Pavestones by sending on to APD colleagues who may be looking for great value assessed self-study in this vital area of clinical practice.

    Read on to get a great summary of the years content and link to the Quiz...

    Download Issue 34

  • Issue 33: Strategies for Finding a Focus in Motivational Interviewing

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 30-Oct-2016

    This is the last issue exploring the second process in Motivational Interviewing: Focusing. I will be presenting two different styles for finding a meaningful session direction with your client.....and a soundtrack featuring a canine friend who just can't seem to find one! You can play with some focusing templates available as downloads in the editorial. What's your Focusing style? Tick a Box or Free Fall? or something unique to you?

    Download Issue 33

  • Issue 32: Finding a Focus When 'All's Well'

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 28-Sep-2016

    In any modality of behaviour change counselling we need a direction, something to focus on with our client in order to be producitve. What is particularly emphasised in Motivational Interviewing is the HOW and the WHY of finding a focus.

    In the HOW, MI encourages that it is very important that we find direction collaboratively with the client. Asking the client what matters to them and what they would appreciate help with is central to demonstrating the spirit of Motivational Interviewing. 

    The HOW of Focusing may sound pretty straight forward. Something has brought your client into your office and so we may assume they have something they want to focus on with us. Well, as they say: 'It ain't necessarily so!'. 

    Last week I received a fabulous question from a subscriber which brought a possible Focusing challenge to life. With her permission I will share her question here:
     
    Could you please direct me to a past issue of Pavestones that might look at how to move forward with client who says they are 'doing everything but not getting results' but who I suspect isn't [doing everything]?

    Great question!

    How on earth do we stay along side our client and find something to work on when they present as 'all good' and we have well founded concerns things are not going so well? Read on to find out more.

    Download Issue 32

  • Issue 31: Guiding Your Client Towards a Focus. When ? How ? What does it sound like?

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 26-Aug-2016

    Once we have joined with our client in a strong engagement it's time to do something directional. This issue we are going to be exploring how to shift gears from the process of Engagement to the process of Focusing without crunching the gear box and bunny hopping through a session.

    Download this issue to found out what the clutch sounds like and for a few more cheesy metaphors!

    Download Issue 31

  • Issue 30: The Classic Dis-engagers We Do All The Time

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 31-Jul-2016

    For those of you that are just joining the conversation, we are currently exploring the first process in the Four Processes of MI introduced back in Issue 28. This important starting point for MI is referred to as Engagement and we completed an introduction to what this really means and what helps it to happen last issue. Engagement is much much more than a friendly warm greeting.

    Have you ever considered that your 'job' may get in the way of you doing good work? In this issue we are looking at how some of our workplace requirements and role expectations can really limit our effectiveness in facilitating behaviour change by blocking client engagement. While taking a look at these challenges I will be exploring some alternative ideas and options to consider. Read on to learn more and have a laugh at Christopher Pyne....

    Download Issue 30

  • Issue 29: What Gets your Client Coming Back? Engagement

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 30-Jun-2016

    Engagement – what does that actually mean?

    I wonder if we can take for granted that we understand what 'to engage' our client means?

    Here are some synonyms of the verb 'engage' from Prof Google, to expand and bring this word to life.

    Capture ….catch ……….arrest ….seize……… draw ……..attract ……….captivate ……hold….. grip…… engross…… occupy …….absorb

    When I first read through this list I was struck by how dynamic these words are. Full of energy, activity, purpose and intent. In our work with a client, engaging is not simply the warm up chat we do before getting to the advice bit.

    So what energy or 'spirit' are we using when we are engaging our client and what is our intention and purpose?

    Read on to find out more, consider some sample questions that embody this purpose and spirit and appreciate some reflections about engagement from colleagues.

    Read Issue 29

  • Issue 28: Oi! Where Are You Heading With That Client?

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 30-May-2016

    This issue was in part inspired by a skillful supervisee who came to supervision curious about the impact of working on increasing her reflections in client sessions. Her concerns were more of a hunch than anything concrete; a sense that she may not be holding the purpose of the session clearly enough by engaging in more reflective listening. Was something being lost or diluted in the work via the impact of reflections? Was she at risk of jumping up and down on the spot with the client?

    This is such a useful enquiry for our consideration and very timely. I had earmarked the next chapter of issues to commence an exploration of the uniquely directive nature of Motivational Interviewing best encapsulated by the Four Processes of MI. So let's jump in and find out some more.........

    Read Issue 28

  • Issue 27: Are we Communicating or Interrogating? Using Questions Wisely

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 30-Apr-2016

    This issue's editorial will be wrapping up our 'Question Series' commenced back in Issue 21 September 2015. This chapter of issues has presented different views of the power of well considered questions with some enthusiasm. To reinforce our balanced perspective,  I will be discussing some cautions in the tale of buoyant questioning as we close the discussion today.

    Read Issue 27

  • Issue 26: How the Past May Hold a Key to the Future

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 27-Mar-2016

    Last issue we spent time exploring how questions can be used to seek exceptions to a problem behaviour. Uncovering these exception experiences can reveal overlooked or dismissed resources. Reconnecting our clients to these resources is a powerful intervention that can reinforce our client's competence and autonomy in the change process. If you'd like to have a quick revision you can access Issue 25 below

    Sue Zbornik APD demonstrated a beautiful application of the exception idea at her Appetite Workshops in February. I invited Sue to contribute to this issue and talk a little about this special form of conversation she has with her clients.

    Read on to engage with this wonderfully creative application of the 'Exception Question'

    Read Issue 26

  • Issue 25: Asking Exceptional Questions

    Written by Tara MacGregor on 29-Feb-2016

    So let's see, in Issue 24 we spent some time thinking about directive questions that pull out our client's preferred future by eliciting resources, strengths and visions of change. Broadly called 'Solution Focused' questions these types of questions are a powerful tool in the kit bag of behaviour change therapists.

    Travelling along a similar vein in this issue, I am inviting exploration of questions that look for exceptions to the problem. These types of questions may offer a much more subtle and client focused alternative to imposing a new thought about change. 'Exception Questions' may do this by inviting the client to sift through their own experiences with a lens that captures times when the problem has been less of an influence.

    Read on to explore more about what this angle of enquiry may have to offer your clients and what it may sound like in session...

     

    Read Issue 25