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The “M” Factor (Keys to Motivation)

January 9, 2014


As we move into the New Year, so many of us make our New Year’s Resolutions, only to berate ourselves within a short few weeks for not following through, not having the motivation to stick to them.   As suggested previously in Bringing in the New Year with Positivity, we have moved away from setting ourselves up for this kind of failure and disappointment and rather are choosing to build upon our strengths.

This is not to say that there isn’t an important place for motivation!  Being open and receptive to change is key to moving forward and embracing wellness in all aspects of our lives: physical, emotional, spiritual.  The challenge is finding what truly motivates us for change.

As providers with Vista Hill SmartCare, we embrace Motivational Interviewing to engage our patients.  According to the Motivational Interviewers Network of Trainers, “MI” is a person-centered counseling style “designed to strengthen an individual’s motivation for and movement toward a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion”.

As a short term prevention / early intervention behavioral health care program partnered with rural health clinics, our Vista Hill SmartCare providers are daily challenged to assist their patients in identifying the most significant or most challenging factor in their lives they would like to address, usually within 6 sessions or less, so that they may live their lives with less stress, less pain, more health and wellness.

This key factor or factors may or may not be what their health provider has referred them for, or what our SmartCare providers believe is necessary for change.   The patient may be severely depressed, or significantly overweight, or too anxious to socialize, or smoking two packs a day.  But the patient may have received an eviction notice and what is motivating her to meet with a SmartCare provider is that she would like assistance with finances and housing.  And so the plan of care and support is developed around this key factor, building on the patient’s strengths and support systems, learning to navigate available resources, so that there is a likelihood of success.  Perhaps the advocacy and self- assurance developed along the way will assist the patient with her new challenges that come her way, along with the additional self- care she has learned to incorporate in the process.

In addition to intervening where the patient is feeling the most stress, we have found that identifying and building upon the patient’s strengths, identifying and utilizing the patient’s natural support systems, incorporating affirmations, and teaching self-care, mindfulness, gratitude and stress reduction techniques are all helpful in feeding motivation and contributing to successful outcomes.

Pamela Sachs, LCSWaffirmation tree

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