Beginning This Transition
In order to begin, our staff needs to ascertain who you are, where you’re at within your journey, and other important facets of your life, that will influence both your treatment and recovery. Your perspectives, beliefs, thoughts, and emotions, about yourself, your life, your addiction and your treatment all play into a complex dynamic that affects your treatment outcome.
The good news is, despite this complexity, various progressive therapies exist that can offer both you and your therapist better insight into this reality so that you are well-versed in your needs. This allows you to better form your recovery goals and ambition as you progress towards sobriety.
We begin our therapeutic process with a research-proven method that affords us the opportunity to better get to know you, in a capacity that helps us to direct you on a successful path for your recovery journey. This technique is called Motivational Interviewing. The name itself lends an idea of what this technique does. It motivates you via an interviewing process.
However, its purpose and mechanism for change are more complex than this. This interview allows us to assess and evaluate your substance abuse history, something that is part of the beginning of any treatment process.
Specifically, we will seek to understand the mindsets, behaviors, and patterns that are linked to your substance abuse in a compassionate, non-invasive and non-confrontational way. We will delve into the psychosocial aspects of your addiction, determining how your use altered social dynamics of your life and the impact it had on you.
Motivational Interviewing, A Powerful Tool For Change
Motivational Interviewing shifts the power dynamic. Instead of your life being run by a constant stream of negativity, it will offer you an opportunity to look at your experiences and life in a way that elevates the importance of self-discovery so that you will, in time, begin to hone your goals and ambitions, redeveloping your self-image. This helps us help you to develop an individualized, accessible treatment plan.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s publication, “Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment,” there are five principles of Motivational Interviewing. Here, at Vertava Health of Massachusetts, our staff is adept at integrating these into our impactful dialogue with you. They are, as sourced from this publication:
- Express empathy through reflective listening — What is key here is that we listen, rather than tell, creating a nonjudgmental atmosphere that brings you, the client, to a gradual conclusion that change is vital.
- Develop discrepancy between clients’ goals or values and their current behavior — A person, through the patient and caring guidance of our staff, looks inward, questioning who they are juxtaposed against where they want to be. The natural progression of this thought process, as aided by the direction of our staff, is that you begin to see the discrepancies between your current lifestyle and the one you seek to live, leading you to the natural conclusion that in order to obtain your goals and better health, you must be drug-free.
- Avoid argument and direct confrontation — These things can cause a person to shut down and revert to the negative emotions that they may feel more comfortable with, emotions that can hinder critical progress. This is not a time for the therapist to exert strong opinions; it is a time for you to warm up to the notions of change that you’re beginning to recognize.
- Adjust to client resistance rather than opposing it directly — We recognize that resistance and ambivalence to change is natural, and in order for your progress to be long-lasting, you need to overcome your hesitations, worries and doubts in a thoughtful and introspective manner.
- Support self-efficacy and optimism — Eventually, as you move through these steps, you will begin to get a greater sense of urgency in terms of what you need to change. Despite this, you may yet be overwhelmed and feel as if you do not have the capacity or inner strength to do this. As you begin to assert the importance of these changes, we will reiterate and affirm the positive impact of your new perspectives and goals, while drawing your attention to your strengths in a way that helps you make these tasks seem more manageable.
Developing Intrinsic Motivation
While overcoming this ambivalence to change, and in turn creating a mindset that helps to increase retention rates—and down the road, decrease relapse rates—our staff will help you to find insight and perspective that garners an evolution of your motivation. At times in which you are resisting change, we will mindfully pose your thoughts back to you, reframing things you are struggling with.
Specifically, we speak about changing this drive from extrinsic, or external motivation (occurring due to your others’ opinions on your substance abuse), to that which is intrinsic, or in essence, internal. This is not to say that this motivation is immune from external situations, rather, that a person’s desire and focus stems from the connection of their need for change versus a need they are being told to care about. For example, intrinsic motivation may arise from someone’s desire to put addiction behind them so that they can regain good financial standing, thereby better providing for their family.
Progressing Towards Change
Change does not happen overnight, nor should it. As much as you might want all the negativity to be gone instantaneously, in order to garner a long-lasting impact, we must together work through steps of change in a thorough and directed way.
The SAMHSA document outlines five basic steps through which an individual progresses as they grow to adapt to the notion of change. They are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
Essentially, a person moves from a point where their thoughts may yet be marked by denial. They do not see why their substance use is a point of concern, however, they begin considering addressing the matter in hopes it may offer a resolution to other issues, such as the tension it creates within their family. They then contemplate how a sober life may improve certain things, yet they cannot fathom actually ceasing substance use.
They now move towards connecting the detriment of their behaviors to their life and begin preparing clear steps to make change an actionable goal. Next, they take action and initiate these steps, however, they may still question if they have the strength to proceed. Lastly, they need to take the steps to protect and nourish it; a certain measure of fear or uncertainty may still exist about this continued pursuit of sobriety.
As an individual may vacillate between the hope of recovery and the allure or familiarity of continued drug use, our staff will guide them through these internal conflicts. Moving forward, they will have greater certainty and understanding of self paired with increased coping skills by which to draw upon to ward off relapse.
Our clinicians better foster this dialogue by asking open-ended questions that invite a more in-depth and thoughtful answer. SAMHSA’s publication on motivation aptly writes about the introspection and conversion that occurs here, stating that “An intensive exploration of life goals and deep-seated values can be a way to strengthen internal motivation.”
This gradual shift in perspective allows you or your loved one to have a greater sense of ownership over your quest for treatment, an element that can aid in its measure of success. Not only does this foster a sense of acceptance, but it will promote a greater sense of pride, responsibility, focus, and fulfillment, which again, tip the scales back towards healthful mindsets of self-confidence and self-actualization, versus negative and burdensome ones.
Let Vertava Health of Massachusetts Be A Catalyst For Change
Change comes from within. However, being in an environment that is conducive and encouraging of this transformation can be vastly influential in granting you the space to develop the faith, insight, and perseverance that is necessary to see it through.
At Vertava Health of Massachusetts, we’ve created a program that is supported by a compassionate and insightful outreach of highly-trained individuals who can support you or your loved one through Motivational Interviewing (MI). Please, if you have any questions about Motivational Interviewing or any of our other impactful treatment modalities, don’t hesitate to contact us.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine — Motivational interviewing to improve treatment engagement and outcome in individuals seeking treatment for substance abuse: A multisite effectiveness study
- Case Western Reserve University — Motivational Interviewing