Home Nutrition Motivational Interviewing: The right way to use it in teaching

Motivational Interviewing: The right way to use it in teaching

Motivational Interviewing: The right way to use it in teaching


All of us have an internal belligerent teenager who resists, rebels, and feels misunderstood.

When you’re a coach, you may be acquainted with situations the place a consumer’s inner-teen surfaced.

Perhaps it was when a consumer…

… skilled even more durable regardless of you cautioning them to take time to get well.

… complained of heartburn, however while you advised an acid-taming meal plan, they responded by occurring a three-night spicy wings bender.

stated they needed to get higher sleep, however gave you 100 the explanation why they couldn’t put their telephone away earlier than 1 am.

Earlier than you think about using reverse psychology (“By no means stretch, and drink eight ounces of Sriracha earlier than mattress each night time…”), what if we informed you there’s a framework that may dissolve these sorts of teaching tensions?

One that can allow you to perceive:

  • Why purchasers’ actions typically contradict their intentions
  • Why individuals usually insurgent in opposition to good recommendation 
  • The right way to assist purchasers make clear the adjustments they’re really prepared to make, and speak themselves into motion 
  • The right way to collaborate higher with purchasers, getting them higher outcomes and making your job simpler and extra pleasing

This framework exists!

It’s known as Motivational Interviewing—and when you get it, your consumer outcomes could be mind-blowing.

What’s Motivational Interviewing?

Developed by scientific psychologists William Miller, PhD, and Stephen Rollnick, PhD, Motivational Interviewing is a communication fashion that helps individuals:

✅ Discover objectives

✅ Strengthen their very own motivation and dedication

✅ Undertake new habits

✅ Stop unproductive habits

✅ Efficiently change for the higher

Motivational Interviewing: Advantages for the coach

Coaches who use Motivational Interviewing operate sort of like tour guides for somebody exploring a brand new nation.

(On this case, that nation is the Land of Health and Vitamin.)

Like a private tour information, you’ve gotten experience, insider’s data, and concepts on the very best issues to do, however you don’t have a programmed route that you simply’ll drive purchasers to stay to.

You would possibly share a few of your insights, however in the end, your purchasers will determine the place to go.

An excellent Motivational Interviewing coach may even be genuinely curious, respectful, and non-judgemental a couple of consumer’s preferences.

(“Oh, you’d fairly spend the day picnicking on the Seine as an alternative of visiting the Eiffel Tower? I completely get that.”)

You respect your consumer’s autonomy, and work together with them as an equal companion.

You usually say, “What would you love to do subsequent? I’ve some concepts, however I’d love to listen to what you’re considering first.”

Consequently, even after they’re in overseas territory, purchasers find yourself feeling supported, but in addition free.

Motivational Interviewing: Advantages for the consumer

Motivational Interviewing works particularly nicely when an individual is:

  • Extremely ambivalent, caught between wanting to vary, and wanting to remain the identical (“I need to go to mattress earlier, however I don’t wish to quit my free time at night time.”)
  • Not very assured about their means to vary (“I’ve by no means been athletic. I simply don’t know if I’m the exercising ‘kind.’”)
  • Unsure about whether or not they even need to make a change (“Do I actually wish to eat extra kale? Sounds gross.”)
  • Not satisfied about the advantages of change (“Will meditating actually decrease my blood stress?”)

Uhh.. that’s most purchasers, isn’t it?


How Motivational Interviewing works

The primary function of Motivational Interviewing is to resolve ambivalence, or “stuckness” in a consumer.

That is achieved by empathy, rapport-building, and freedom to discover change choices—together with not altering in any respect.

Wait—not altering?!

When most coaches and practitioners hear this, they bristle. They really feel it’s their job to assist purchasers change and enhance.

If a consumer isn’t progressing, many coaches will (naturally, understandably) strive more durable—convincing, encouraging, even lecturing a consumer about all the great, life-affirming causes to vary.


“Serving to more durable” normally doesn’t work.

Certain, just a few unicorn purchasers simply want extra prodding to make progress.

However many consumers don’t reply to plain encouragement, rationalizing, and problem-solving. The more durable you attempt to assist them, the more durable they push again, persevering with their outdated habits.

Take this frequent teaching situation:

A consumer involves you as a result of they wish to eat more healthy.

A former athlete, their weight has crept up as a result of they changed a busy coaching schedule with a desk job, and many snacking.

Their garments not match, and their physician has warned them that they’re at excessive threat of growing prediabetes. They’ve two younger youngsters, and their motivation is excessive to set a very good instance for them and be a wholesome guardian.

You’ve taught them about parts, protein, greens—all of the diet fundamentals.

And but, just a few periods in, they haven’t modified a factor.

In fact, you ask them what’s up.

Consumer: I sit all day however really feel so drained after work. I don’t have the vitality to train; all I wish to do after I get house is watch sport highlights with a beer and a few chips.

Coach: Okay, I can perceive that. However your physician informed you it was necessary to begin exercising, and keep on with a greater weight loss plan. She’s frightened about your blood sugar, proper?

Consumer: Yeah, I do know. I simply really feel like work is so loopy proper now, and I actually need time to decompress after work. It’s all I’ve earlier than the children get residence, after which the home is nuts till they go to mattress.

Coach: Hmm, nicely perhaps you might simply put a stationary bike in entrance of the TV and have seltzer as an alternative of beer?

Consumer: However that doesn’t really feel enjoyable to me. What I’m saying is that I actually need a while when nobody wants me to do something, and I can simply deal with myself. I by no means get to do this.

Coach: I get that. However you stated that long run, you wish to be wholesome to your youngsters. And the easiest way to do this is to take higher care of your self now.

Are you able to see the place that is going?

The coach is making an attempt to assist by suggesting options, and reminding the consumer of the significance of their decisions.

The coach has a honest want to appropriate course after they see the consumer getting off observe. (In Motivational Interviewing, that is known as “the righting reflex.”)

Paradoxically, this causes the consumer to take the opposing place, to defend themself. 

Sadly, the coach finally ends up feeling annoyed as a result of they don’t really feel like they’re doing a very good job serving to. (Which is what they have been employed to do… proper?)

In the meantime, the consumer feels misunderstood, and additional invested in justifying their present habits.

You already know your consumer needs to undertake higher habits—they informed you in your first session collectively.

However in addition they appear pulled to take care of their present comforts.

So how do you get this consumer to vary? (With out making your self the enemy?)

Comply with these 5 steps and expertise the magic of Motivational Interviewing.

Motivational Interviewing abilities: 5 steps to higher consumer conversations

When a consumer is 100% prepared, in a position, and prepared to take motion RIGHT NOW, you received’t want a lot assist.

(Heck, you would possibly by no means meet a consumer like that. Why would they rent a coach?)

Motivational Interviewing is most wanted—and efficient—while you sense friction in your consumer periods. Your consumer is expressing uncertainty, not following by on their intentions, or straight up resisting what you supply.

When that occurs (and it’ll), comply with these steps.

Motivational Interviewing Ability #1: Acknowledge that ambivalence is regular

Ever make an enormous resolution?

Get married? Purchase a home? Change careers?

Do you keep in mind how a part of you felt excited for the change, however one other a part of you felt grief or nervousness over the lack of your single life, your outdated (low cost) condo, or your unstimulating-but-regular-paycheck job?

It’s the identical method when purchasers ponder life-style adjustments.

A part of them needs to be the kind of one that eats salads day-after-day, and the opposite half nonetheless needs to have a carefree angle in direction of meals, and sure, add fries to that.

This inner battle between wanting to vary and wanting to remain the identical known as ambivalence.

And it’s completely regular.

Most purchasers received’t know the way to title this rigidity both, they usually definitely received’t assume it’s regular. They’ll in all probability simply say: “I wish to do that factor. However I’m not doing it. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME??”

Ambivalence is such a standard a part of change that each coach and consumer ought to bake it into their expectations.

(To deliver consciousness to—and typically even resolve—ambivalence, this train could be magic: 4 Loopy Questions Worksheet)

Nonetheless, ambivalence can also be a spot the place individuals can get caught.

Normally, being caught means sustaining the “outdated” method. That means: Your consumer isn’t getting any more healthy.

To be able to assist a consumer transfer by these pure emotions of ambivalence, don’t push more durable.

As a substitute…

Motivational Interviewing Ability #2: Assess your consumer’s readiness for change

Change is never a single occasion: You’re a technique, then you definately’re all of the sudden “modified.”

Change is a course of with a number of phases. And through a few of these phases, it received’t “look” like something’s taking place.

The concept change is a multi-step course of with distinct phases known as the Transtheoretical Mannequin of Change.

Image of transtheoretical model of change shows 6 stages of change, arranged in a cycle. Although people may enter or exit at any phase, typically people enter in the precontemplation phase, then move to contemplation, then preparation, then action, then potentially relapse, then ideally enter a maintenance phase.

Purchasers can enter or exit at any stage of the above mannequin.

Nonetheless, assessing the place your consumer is in that course of may also help you coach them higher—an individual can have totally different wants relying on which section they’re in. It’ll additionally allow you to keep away from getting forward of them and inadvertently scaring them away from change.

The transtheoretical mannequin of change: 6 phases

Table describes the transtheoretical model of change, which has 6 stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, then potentially relapse.

Most applications and coaches assume purchasers are within the “motion” stage already.

For instance, giving a consumer a meal plan or a exercise program after your first session assumes they’re already within the motion stage. Which isn’t at all times true.

By understanding and getting ready for varied phases of readiness, you’ll be capable of join with—and assist—far more purchasers.

Motivational Interviewing Ability #3: Perceive your consumer’s motivations

No matter your consumer’s doing that’s holding them again from higher well being—staying up late, getting too wound up at work, or stress-eating costly cheese—they’ve a very good motive for doing it.  

To dig into that motive, Motivational Interviewing coaches use OARS:

Open questions




OARS represents a set of communication abilities that construct understanding and belief between the consumer and the coach.

Let’s go into how (and when) to make use of these now.

Open Questions

Usually, an open query is one which prompts a consumer to suppose, and yields greater than a “sure” or “no” reply.

Open questions offer you perception right into a consumer’s emotions, expertise, and expectations.


  • What brings you in at the moment?
  • How are your present habits affecting you proper now?
  • What do you hope for your self sooner or later?

Open questions are a good way to begin off a session, or to discover a sure matter at any level within the session.

Good open questions additionally assist the consumer notice why change issues, and the way it may be potential.


Affirming means accentuating a consumer’s strengths, efforts, and previous successes as a option to construct hope and optimism.

Your affirmations may also help purchasers see themselves otherwise: Maybe as somebody who’s smart and worthy of respect—and most significantly, somebody who’s able to change.

Affirming must be real; When you’re really listening and understanding your consumer’s facet of the story, you will see their constructive elements, equivalent to their resilience or their creativity, and it’ll really feel pure to name it out.

Affirmations sound like this:

  • Wow, you’ve labored actually laborious on this subject! I actually admire your persistence.
  • It appears like although issues didn’t end up as you deliberate, your intention was good.
  • I do know you’re disenchanted that you simply couldn’t observe your new behavior completely, however I see enormous progress from the place you began.

Affirmations can be utilized to construct momentum when a consumer is making progress, however they’re equally necessary when a consumer is feeling defeated and will use some assist reframing themselves or their actions.


Purchasers don’t at all times talk completely: They attempt to describe an expertise and don’t at all times convey their full which means.

Certain, you might press them to be extra clear or elaborate additional, however that may make some purchasers simply really feel like they’re doing a foul job of speaking, or that you simply simply don’t perceive.

Reflections are a method of guessing at a consumer’s deeper which means.

They allow you to affirm you’ve understood what the consumer is actually saying, and in addition offers you the chance to construct on what the consumer may be making an attempt to get at, by weaving in a few of your personal insights.

When executed correctly, reflecting may also help a consumer really feel deeply cared for, understood, and in addition improve their very own understanding of themselves and their scenario.

Listed here are some examples of reflections:

Consumer: I really feel nervous.

Coach: You’re feeling uneasy, perhaps since you’ve by no means talked about these items earlier than.

Consumer: I really feel like I failed.

Coach: You are feeling disenchanted that you simply slipped up this week, and this makes you marvel in the event you can actually change in the long term.

Consumer: I’m so completely satisfied I went to the gymnasium this week!

Coach: You’re completely satisfied you went to the gymnasium and also you should be feeling so pleased with your self! You’re getting a style for what’s potential!

Consider it or not, it really doesn’t matter a lot in the event you often get a consumer’s which means incorrect. Simply take a guess, and your consumer will appropriate you in the event you’re incorrect.

Test it out:

Consumer: This meal plan sort of freaks me out!

Coach: All these macros and energy could be overwhelming!

Consumer: Oh, that’s not it in any respect. I’m fairly snug with macros. It’s simply that I’ve two daughters, and I’m frightened in regards to the message I’m sending them in the event that they see me weighing all my meals.

In correcting you, your consumer helps you perceive what they imply anyway.

Getting it incorrect can really feel awkward, however it’s higher than staying quiet and assuming you perceive a consumer’s full which means after they say one thing.

(Observe: The above are all examples of advanced reflections. If all that deciphering sounds dangerous, then strive a easy reflection, the place you simply repeat or barely rephrase what a consumer stated. Though primary, even this technique may also help a consumer really feel such as you’re listening, and gives them an opportunity to elaborate.)


Summarizing is simply stringing collectively reflections—and typically affirmations—based mostly on a number of issues a consumer has informed you.

Like reflections, summaries allow you to affirm whether or not you’ve heard and interpreted a narrative accurately.

In addition they give purchasers an opportunity to replicate on every thing they’ve informed you to this point, and probably to see their story another way. Generally once we hear another person inform our story again to us, it offers us new insights.

Right here’s an instance:

“So, you got here right here at the moment since you’re frightened about your well being. You usually really feel sore and drained, and that worries you as a result of you’ve gotten younger youngsters who want you to be wholesome for a very long time. You’ve had bother sticking to diet applications up to now, so that you don’t really feel tremendous assured that you are able to do it now. Nonetheless, you’ve additionally continued to care about your well being, and attempt to discover options, which reveals me how resilient you’re.”

On the finish of your abstract, you may ask, “Did I miss something?” or “Do you wish to add anything?”

Use summaries while you:

✅ Wrap up a sure matter

✅ Shift from one section of a consumer session to the following

✅ Attain the top of a session

With the entire image freshly laid out, you and your consumer can higher give you probably the most acceptable subsequent steps.

Motivational Interviewing Ability #4: Roll with any resistance that comes up

Resistance occurs when the consumer seems to maneuver away from change, and in direction of sustaining their outdated habits.

Resistance would possibly sound like this:

“However I make all my meals at residence! I don’t perceive how my weight loss plan may very well be unhealthy!”


“I’m simply not a gymnasium particular person.”

Resistance isn’t in regards to the consumer being “tough.”

Resistance occurs when the consumer feels some (regular) ambivalence about change, and the coach has moved too far forward within the change course of.

It’s usually the coach who creates resistance. If a consumer’s pushing again, it means you’ve given them one thing to push in opposition to.

[Swallows jagged pill]

So while you expertise resistance, you would possibly ask your self:

“What did I say to generate push-back?”

Perhaps you—with completely good intentions—advised the consumer change an excessive amount of too quick. They usually’re now feeling insecure, and overwhelmed.

This causes your consumer to dig of their heels, creating a sense of friction in the event you proceed to push ahead.

A simpler option to cope with resistance is to step again, remind your self that ambivalence and resistance are regular, after which use reflections to assist perceive and transfer by your consumer’s resistance.

Right here’s what which may sound like:

Consumer: “I don’t see why my weight loss plan’s such an enormous downside.”

Coach: “You are feeling such as you’re probably not seeing the good thing about altering your consuming habits.”

Consumer: “No. I imply, my physician appears to suppose there’s an issue, however I don’t.”

Coach: “You’re probably not positive your physician is correct about this.”

Consumer: “Nicely, I’m positive she is aware of one thing. She’s a physician in spite of everything. I simply don’t really feel like I’m sick or something.”

Coach: “Your physician would possibly know what they’re speaking about, you simply don’t really feel you’ve skilled any adverse penalties of your weight loss plan.”

Consumer: “Nicely, I assume I get heartburn a good bit. And I don’t have the vitality I used to.”

Coach: “Your heartburn’s bothering you, and it could be nice to really feel extra energetic once more.”

Consumer: “Yeah. These issues bug me loads really. Sigh. I assume I do know if I eat higher, I’ll in all probability really feel higher.”

With out making an attempt to persuade them of your place, you’ve simply walked the consumer gently in direction of change.

Your consumer initially felt defensive and a bit of oppositional, however with some good reflections, they felt understood and free to discover their choices.

Now, you’re in a significantly better place to ask the consumer in the event that they’re okay with you sharing some issues about how diet would possibly enhance their particular well being points.

And your consumer would possibly really really feel able to pay attention.

Motivational Interviewing Ability #5: Help your consumer’s ongoing means to vary

Many purchasers who come to you should have tried to vary on their very own—and even with the assistance of one other practitioner—with out success.

They may even be used to individuals telling them their habits are “dangerous” and pushing them to vary.

In different phrases, many consumers will come to you full of self-doubt, mistrustful of their very own instincts and knowledge.

This may negatively affect their long run progress.

Right here’s what we all know—from teaching over 100,000 purchasers—what does assist individuals make significant and sustainable progress.

Persons are extra profitable when:

  • They discover their very own motivation to vary. Persons are extra persuaded by what they themselves say than what another person tells them to do.
  • They see challenges as alternatives to get stronger, fairly than quit. Affirmations that spotlight a consumer’s efforts (fairly than simply outcomes) can strengthen their perception of their means to study, develop, and adapt.
  • They’re self-compassionate. When a consumer works with a coach who accepts them as they’re, sees the very best in them, and believes of their potential, it’s transformative. Purchasers who internalize this compassion and constructive regard usually tend to undertake more healthy habits, and have higher psychological well being outcomes.

By adopting the spirit of Motivational Interviewing in your teaching, you’ll naturally promote all of those outcomes in your purchasers.

(Learn extra about the way to speak to purchasers in a collaborative, compassionate method: Efficient coach speak: What to say to purchasers and why it issues)

Don’t count on your teaching to vary suddenly, although.

This was just a bit pattern of what Motivational Interviewing has to supply.

Even so, you may be feeling overwhelmed about every thing we simply lined.

Or perhaps you’re tremendous excited to place it into observe!

(Or perhaps it’s each. Bear in mind: Ambivalence is regular.)

Both method, know that Motivational Interviewing takes constant observe on the a part of the practitioner to actually “get.”

Motivational Interviewing is a sort of language. And similar to studying a brand new language, Motivational Interviewing takes time to grasp—and may really feel REALLY awkward at first.

Identical to you give your purchasers time and house to vary, permit your self to construct your Motivational Interviewing proficiency over time.

(If you wish to dig into it additional, plus be mentored by one among our Tremendous Coaches, try the Precision Vitamin Stage 2 Grasp Well being Teaching Certification. Motivational Interviewing rules are constructed into our teaching strategies—we name it “client-centered teaching.”)

While you get the dangle of Motivational Interviewing, teaching will really feel totally different.

Your purchasers will get higher outcomes as a result of they really feel extra autonomous, revered, and appropriately supported. And that’s very rewarding to witness.

However you’ll additionally really feel higher: You’ll expertise much less frustration and battle in consumer periods, teaching will really feel simpler with much less stress to “produce outcomes,” and also you’ll really feel extra linked to the individuals you serve.

Motivational Interviewing is likely one of the best instruments you need to use to assist your purchasers change for the higher.

And it’ll change you too.


Click on right here to view the knowledge sources referenced on this article.

Miller WR, Rollnick S. Motivational Interviewing. Getting ready individuals for change. third edn. New York: The Guilford Press, 2013.

In our elite mentorship program, you’ll study the secrets and techniques of conduct change psychology—and be a part of the world’s prime 1% of coaches.

“I skyrocketed my teaching abilities and confidence…My impostor syndrome is gone!– Katya Mohsen, PN Licensed Grasp Well being Coach

When you’re able to stage up your teaching abilities and really feel assured you may information any consumer to a long-lasting well being transformation, we’ve bought some huge information for you:

On April 4th, 2023, we’re opening registration for the following cohort of the PN Grasp Well being Teaching Certification, the {industry}’s most revered practice-based mentorship.

“You can’t be a well being or health coach with out having the instruments and strategies that this program brings. It’s an entire totally different stage.”– Katya Mohsen, Lisa Bernier, PN Licensed Grasp Well being Coach

Contained in the Grasp Well being Teaching Certification, you’ll study a talent set and be capable of earn a credential that can distinguish you as an elite coach:

The power to make use of conduct change psychology to assist any consumer obtain sustainable, significant change. And the credential of being a Board Licensed Well being and Wellness Coach.

“This program does a completely phenomenal job of addressing the way to have an effect on conduct change…one thing that’s sorely lacking in most individuals’s practices.”– Jeb Stuart Johnson, Founding father of Meals On The Thoughts, PN Licensed Grasp Well being Coach

It’s the one program on the planet the place you’ll study the secrets and techniques of conduct change psychology by reside mentorship.

As a result of, whereas understanding the science of diet and health is necessary, it’s not sufficient. To be able to really create change, you want a deep understanding of conduct change psychology.

We’ve utilized this understanding with our teaching applications to assist over 100,000 purchasers obtain lasting well being transformations—one thing no person else can say.

And now, we’re able to share our hard-earned knowledge with you.

“This program taught me the way to be a greater coach and retain purchasers longer. Earlier than, I had purchasers staying for a month. Now, it’s six, 9 months, even a yr.”– Jeff Grogan, PN Licensed Grasp Well being Coach

Via real-world teaching situations, hands-on assignments, and mentoring periods with PN’s industry-leading Grasp Well being Coaches, you’ll discover ways to prioritize a consumer’s challenges, assist them take away obstacles holding them again, and the way to create distinctive, actionable teaching plans for each consumer, addressing their:

  • Sleep
  • Stress administration
  • Psychological well being
  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Restoration
  • Weight loss program
  • Train

This mentorship program is the place the world’s finest coaches come to take the following steps of their careers.

On the finish of your 20-week program, you’ll be a Grasp Well being Coach—assured in your means to information any consumer in direction of a significant, lasting well being transformation.

“I now have extra data, extra confidence and extra talent. My purchasers keep longer and expertise higher outcomes.– Jonny Landels, Founding father of Subsequent Step Vitamin, PN Licensed Grasp Well being Coach

After becoming a member of, you’ll:

  • Assist any consumer obtain sustainable, significant change by leveraging behavior-change psychology.
  • Remove impostor syndrome and really feel extra assured in your abilities than ever earlier than by integrating confirmed strategies utilized by the world’s prime well being and well-being coaches into your teaching observe.
  • Develop into an authority within the well being and well-being house. As you study from PN’s industry-leading coaches and community with among the sharpest minds within the {industry}, you’ll construct the arrogance to share your experience with anybody, anytime.
  • Earn more money and obtain monetary freedom. Whether or not you determine to tackle the full-time function of “well being coach”, otherwise you wish to increase in your present work as a well being and well-being skilled, well being teaching is a good way to assist extra individuals.

Early Chook registration for our subsequent PN Grasp Well being Teaching Certification kicks off on April 4th, 2023.

When you’re , or simply need extra data, it is best to strongly take into account signing up for the free waitlist under.

After becoming a member of the free Waitlist, you’ll save as much as 44%, get unique perks, and early entry.

  • Pay lower than everybody else. We’re providing a reduction of as much as 44% off the final worth while you join the waitlist
  • Join 10 days earlier than most of the people. We solely open the PN Grasp Well being Teaching Certification just a few instances per yr. Attributable to excessive demand, we count on it to promote out quick. However while you join the waitlist, we’ll provide the alternative to register 10 days earlier than anybody else.
  • Get entry to an unique bonus seminar with PN Co-founder Dr. John Berardi and PN CEO Timothy Jones: “Teaching After the Pandemic: How Well being and Health Coaches Can Navigate the Trade in 2023 and Past.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here