Do individuals trained in motivational interviewing show an attentional bias towards change talk?
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a counselling method used to strengthen and encourage behaviour change that is centered on an individual’s own intrinsic motivation to do so. Attempts have been made to measure skilfulness in Motivational Interviewing (MI), however the most valid and reliable current methods are resource demanding and difficult to administer and score. During MI, the practitioner listens for statements by the client that are directional towards or away from positive change in their behaviour, referred to as Change Talk (CT) and Sustain Talk (ST). Using two attention bias tasks, the present study was conducted to test if MI practitioners showed attentional bias to CT and ST as evidenced by slower response to CT in a modified Stroop task, and faster response towards CT and ST in a dot-probe task compared to individuals who had no MI training. If this were found to be true, then there would be the potential to develop a new means of measuring practitioner skilfulness in MI. Participants consisted of three groups, those with no MI training (N = 36), some MI training (N=22), and Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) members (N=15) with considerable training in MI. The Stroop task showed that MINT members were significantly slower in responding to all words regardless of their meaning compared to the control group (None). This difference no longer existed between groups when age was removed as a co-varying factor. It is recommended that an easier, user-friendly means to measure MI practitioner skill and fidelity and continue to be explored and tested. If the Stroop or dot-probe were to be utilized again to attempt to measure attentional bias towards CT and ST, using age matched participants, and the implementation of supraliminal exposure or priming may present more desirable findings.