Motivational Interviewing is an approach to counseling based on understanding a person’s perspective to help them find their own motivation to change. It is a collaborative approach in which the counselor and client meet as equals to find solutions together.

Ulf Lidman has successfully worked with Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Cross-Cultural Counseling for several years. He uses these approaches to help people in crisis make positive changes in their lives, including people who are homeless, refugees or incarcerated.

Understanding the passion that drives a person

Motivational Interviewing is a very relational way of dealing with change,” Ulf says. “It is not a method, but rather a way of understanding who a person is. By learning how they think, and about their values and background, you can evoke the motivation they have within. There is motivation within us all!”

With Motivational Interviewing, the practitioner needs to build a close relationship with the client so that they can look past any labels and really see the individual.

In other types of counseling, the method is so important, but Motivational Interviewing is not a cookie-cutter approach,” Ulf says. “With MI, the client is the one who has the key. You have to be very humble, since they are the expert on their own life. Many times when an organization tries to help people, we want to tell them what is best for them. MI says no, the practitioner’s job is to help the client find out what is best for them.”

A cross-cultural approach to Motivational Interviewing

MI is an approach that works very well with Cross-Cultural Counseling. While refugees come from countries with different cultures, groups like the homeless and the formerly incarcerated also have their own subcultures. For counseling to be effective, these cultures need to be understood.

As a practitioner, you can’t come with blanket statements about who a homeless person is, or a refugee, or someone who has been incarcerated,” Ulf says. “Many of these people feel misunderstood by a lot of society, and Motivational Interviewing is a way of getting closer to that person so you can form a partnership and learn what really drives them. In our solution-focused world, we often forget the importance of ENGAGING with people. We see a problem and jump to find solutions. In MI we ask the questions first: Who is this wonderful individual who has a problem?”

Restoring marginalized people wherever they are

What makes Ulf’s approach to Motivational Interviewing unique is that he takes MI and Cross-Cultural Counseling out of the clinic and into the field. He helps marginalized people wherever they are, whether it is a refugee center, a homeless shelter or a prison.

I want to help restore people who feel they are broken,” Ulf says. “I am interested in the person who is living on the streets and has tried to change and can’t find a way. I help people to help themselves to become who they want to be. Motivational Interviewing is a fantastic way of calling out what is under the surface and maybe nobody else sees, including the individual. People need to hear, no matter how they live their lives, that nobody can be the expert on their life but them.”

Take the next step to helping people in crisis

Learn more about how your organization can use Motivational Interviewing. In a course designed specifically for you and your needs, Ulf will describe his best practices and experiences.

Course:Motivational Interviewing


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