Motivational Interviewing

Today’s blog post features my favorite interviewee yet…my younger brother, Jason! Jason is currently studying at Liberty University’s Clinical Mental Health Program to become a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC). He is super passionate about counseling, and has the most empathetic heart. Jason’s future patients are fortunate to have his expert guidance. ❤️

What are communication tips to improve treatment plan acceptance?

The EPE model. This stands for Elicit-Provide-Elicit. When using motivational interviewing, you want to (1) elicit what a patient already knows, (2) provide additional information/instruction, then (3) elicit understanding / interpretation / response. An example of this is the following:

Dentist: Well, it seems you have a cavity on a maxillary molar (#14). What do you know about treating cavities? (Eliciting information)

Patient: If I don’t treat cavities, they will get worse right? 

Dentist: That’s right. They may also end up reaching your nerves and you may end up in a lot more pain. Therefore, it is important to treat the cavities as fast as possible (Providing information). Does that make sense to you? (Eliciting a response)

Patient: Yeah, I don’t want the pain to get worse. 

There are two main reasons why the EPE model can be beneficial. First, patients are more willing to listen when they feel included. This information exchange is more collaborative and less preachy. Second, the EPE model saves you time in information exchange. Since the patient provides what they already know, you are able to fill in the gaps without repeating information. 

Additionally, the importance ruler is a good motivating tool. This refers to asking clients on a scale of 0-10, how important something is. The useful part of this tool is the follow up question about the person’s number. This question includes asking a client why they aren’t a lower number or how they could make their number higher. These questions evoke change talk in the client. An example of this the following:

Dentist: On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 means ‘not at all important’ and 10 means ‘the most important thing for me right now,’ how important would you say it is for you to floss your teeth every day? 

Patient: Hmmmm…..about a 3.

Dentist: And why are you at a 3 and not 0 [or any lower number than 3]?

At this point the client will evoke change talk about why flossing is important. The reason why evoking change talk from clients is important is because clients are more willing to listen to themselves than somebody else. 

Do you recommend any additional reading?

The original source of Motivational Interviewing, Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change, by William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick. 

Additionally, Amazon has books on Motivational Interviewing in dentistry settings. Motivational Interviewing in Dentistry: Helping People Become Healthier by Lynn D. Carlisle DDS. 

What communication tips do you have for improved case acceptance? Comment below!


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