“I don’t know how we’ll get through winter”

As the cost of living is rising, a greater number of people are experiencing financial hardship. How do we hold onto our hope for change when we are supporting people in poverty or destitution? How do we focus conversations on the potential for change when people are feeling trapped by their circumstances?

As part of our work with Clarion Futures we have spent time thinking about how to use Motivational Interviewing in the context of extreme financial hardship. Some of our thoughts can be found on our App under Listen, search by your job role, Clarion Futures. Here you’ll find some example motivational interviews to prompt thought and discussion.

Compassion is key. Even when a person is making decisions that don’t make sense to us, such as smoking when they can’t afford their heating, we need to find a way to withhold any judgement we might have and let them explore theirdecisions. If a person feels judged, they are more likely to defend their behaviour and become entrenched. We cannot know from the outside what the best thing is for that person. We can simply hold up a mirror and help them work it out themselves.

What about those times when neither us nor the person we are working with can see any capacity for change? They are doing everything they can to make ends meet and just do not have enough money. There are times we cannot have a Motivational Interview with someone because the conversation isn’t about change. But we can still use our motivational skills. Our unconditional positive regard, our empathy and our congruence. We can be open about how difficult the situation is for the person. We can help them feel seen. We can help them see that they are doing an incredible job in incredibly difficult circumstances. And we can remember Maya Angelou; “People will never forget how you made
them feel”.

Lynne Canessa
ACA Associate

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Fantastic course [Motivational Interviewing]! Totally relevant, understandable, practical and interesting. I look forward to using the skills and tools I learned. I was particularly impressed with Alasdair Cant. He is a brilliant trainer, knowledgeable, patient, engaging and clearly skilled at facilitating groups ensuring fun and learning.

Youth Justice Worker