Why You Should Stop Trying to Convince Clients to Change

Why You Should Stop Trying to Convince Clients to Change

An interview with Hillary Bolter, LCSW, on Motivational Interviewing. Curt and Katie chat with Hillary about what MI really is, what therapists often get wrong when supporting clients in making changes, and the importance of how therapists show up for this evidence-based model.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

Interview with Hillary Bolter, MSW, LCSW, LCAS

Hillary is one of those folks that inherently thinks they have great ideas and solutions for people upon first encounter (Enneagram 1!). She’s ready to jump in and FIX! When she began her MI learning process, she realized just how essential MI was going to be for her energy, effectiveness, and longevity in the helping profession!

She has been a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) since 2011. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker & Addiction Therapist and absolutely delights in helping individuals, groups, and organizations learn the essential skills of Motivational Interviewing. She has worked as a helping professional for 20 years, ranging from working in wilderness therapy to community mental health, providing in home & school-based services, as a therapist with specialties including working with anxiety, trauma, addiction, and veterans.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Motivational Interviewing (MI) is simple but not easy
  • The righting reflex – the tendency for therapists to try to persuade toward change
  • The differences between MI and the stages of change
  • What does “using MI” really mean?
  • The spirit of MI – the attitude we bring to our clients – empathy, collaboration, evocation, acceptance and compassion
  • OARS skills: open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections, and summaries
  • Change talk – the more people talk about change, the more likely they are to change
  • Focusing on why people would like to change
  • When we focus on why TO change, clients may argue against change (voicing the ambivalence)
  • How therapists may want to navigate changes that feel urgent (unsafe behaviors, for example)
  • Three styles of communication: following, guiding, directing
  • The ways to move from directing or educating back into a more collaborative stance
  • Why MI isn’t more widely used
  • The ways that MI skills could intermingle with other theoretical orientation
  • The idea around walking with your clients
  • Looking at the myth that motivational interviewing is manipulative
  • How to assess whether the change is in the client’s best interest
  • The focusing process as a way to ensure client participation
  • Motivational Interviewing is a communication technique
  • Distinguishing between the motivations that drive the change – focusing on the best interest of the client is the only one that really is MI
  • The importance of experiential training for MI

Our Generous Sponsors:

Productive Therapist

You should be able to change the world and love your life. Productive Therapist can help you save time, make more money and feel a sense of relief. They provide mental health virtual assistants, business coaching, and unique training & support programs. Delegation can be the key to your freedom, but it is tough and comes with a learning curve. The Delegation Pro course will speed up that process by walking you through the important things you need to learn to start delegating like a pro (or a master)! You will get guidance on figuring out what tasks you should delegate, how to find the right person for the job and recommendations for the technology to make it a smooth process. As a listener of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide, you can get this course free by using the coupon code MODERN. Visit https://productivetherapist.teachable.com/p/delegation-pro to learn more.

Mulberry Web Design

Mulberry is a creative studio known for building fabulous custom websites, reasonable rates, and an obsessive dedication to customer service. The friendly team at Mulberry can take your private practice website to the next level with a complete redesign or help with your current website. Mulberry is a perfect fit for modern therapists ready to improve their online business presence. As a special welcome to listeners of this podcast, Mulberry is offering a 10% discount (up to $250!) on any service they provide. Mention the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast to receive your welcome discount.

Visit Mulberry at MulberryWebDesign.com today.

Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Hillary’s website: bolterconsulting.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hillarybolter/

Hillary’s Facebook Group

Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT)

Relevant Episodes:

How to BE a Therapist

Is CBT Crap?

Connect with us!

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Get Notified About Therapy Reimagined Conferences

Our consultation services:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at: http://www.curtwidhalm.com

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also Past President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at: http://www.katievernoy.com

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch:



Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Group





Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW/

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano http://www.crystalmangano.com/

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *