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BALM | February 17, 2018

Motivational Interviewing

(MI) is a way of interacting with our loved ones that helps them explore their own motivations, so they can determine their own best path. Holding these motivational conversations can be extremely powerful, especially when paired with a BALM® conversation. MI was developed to help counselors address their clients’ ambivalence toward change. In the beginning, MI emphasized technique. But today, the emphasis is more on the value of a compassionate relationship that can evoke a loved one’s best inner knowing (Miller and Rollnick 2012).

We introduce MI to parents and family members as an adjunct to a BALM® conversation because both methods recognize the quality of relationship as essential to encouraging a person to move from ambivalence to willingness to change. The BALM® conversations share the facts of what you hear your loved one saying and see your loved one doing, and a motivational conversation provides guidance on how to ask questions that give a loved one the ability to go deep within, beyond the lies and self-deception, to what they really want, what may be keeping them back, and what they feel will help them get there. Motivational interviewing and the Stages of Change model covered in Principle 2 do complement each other, though they are two distinct methods.

The key to both MI and BALM® is not in asking the “right” questions or sharing the facts perfectly. Understanding the steps of a process is helpful, but more important than what you say is your motivation, your loving approach, your tone, the way in which you approach your relationship with the person who is suffering.

In BALM®, we talk about be the peace you wish to see in the world and seeing your loved one through the eyes of love rather than judgment or resentment to be their best chance at recovery. We emphasize a loving respect combined with an understanding of what is the best practice to help a loved one move toward recovery. We use the brief intervention known as the BALM® conversation to provide objective facts in a loving tone. Motivational interviewing emphasizes compassion, collaboration, acceptance, and evocation as its underlying spirit. Neither program is about manipulating an individual to do things your way. Both start with an understanding that under all the apparent dysfunction, the loved one has an inner knowing and an inner peace, an inner guide of their own.

A compassionate counselor or loving family member who is willing to educate themselves and address the person in a respectful tone, with words and intent that respect the person’s right to make their own decisions, can be there for the struggling individual most powerfully. Does this guarantee a specific result? No. It does not. But as we say in BALM®, educating yourself and experiencing the attitudinal shift will empower you to be their best chance at recovery. Remember, it is all about contributing to recovery, not causing it. That is beyond the ability of any human other than the struggling person himself or herself.

Self-awareness is essential, and to that end we also include an ongoing journaling workshop in our offerings. Some families attend regularly, some just listen to the recordings at their leisure, and many get a lot of benefit from it. It’s called Journal Your Way to BALM® Recovery, and it uses journaling to keep you applying all you’ve learned toward your daily life. The focus of the BALM® Journal is to provide another way to help BALMers Be A Loving Mirror. Only in this case, they are learning to Be A Loving Mirror to themselves.

Self-awareness can also come through mindfulness. Once you start to develop a quieting practice in your life, you will become an observer of yourself and others. One exercise you can do today to grow your self-awareness is to simply watch yourself as you move through your day. Then, document what you have said and thought and done—just the facts!

As you do so, don’t allow judgment. Don’t say, “Oh, I’m terrible. I’m awful.” Instead, simply say, “Oh, look at that. Look what I’m doing now. So that’s what it’s like to behave this way. Isn’t that interesting?” (Patent 2007).

Become an observer in your own life. See what happens and see how nonjudgmental awareness can lead to mindfulness.

Developing a daily practice is very important: a practice of mindfulness, a practice of something that gets you to calm yourself and grow your awareness each moment. If you don’t like the idea of meditating, it could be something simple, like cleaning. It could be painting the house or taking a walk. If what you’re doing calms your mind as well as your body, you’re on the right track.

All these practical tactics are really about going back to that basic foundation: there must be peace within. That is the grounding for everything.

Be intentional and promote a sense of peace and stability inside yourself.

Questions to Ponder:

What happens to you when you start flooding?

What can you do to disengage from losing your mental balance during stressful times?

This article and answers to these questions along with much, much more are included in Bev’s new upcoming book: BALM – The Loving Path to Family Recovery.

CLICK HERE to pre-order YOUR copy!

If you are not already part of our BALM® Community and would like to know more about how you can join the Journal Your Way to BALM® Recovery Workshop along with the other offerings of the BALM® Comprehensive Family Recovery Education program CLICK HERE.