Could Motivational Interviewing be helpful in my role?

  • Authors: Jackie Webb, Steve Macabee
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This July, the Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership (SSCP) is starting a programme of training in Motivational Interviewing (MI) open to anyone who works with children and families.

The first workshop is on the 5th July and you can sign up to the FREE training today!

Motivational Interviewing (MI) was first introduced in Somerset’s Children’s Services three years ago and has had a huge impact on approaches to engaging and supporting families. MI is now embedded across teams in Children Social Care, Family Intervention Service and Public Health Nursing – but we have had significant interest from other agencies about how they can use MI to support their work.

On the back of this the SSCP has commissioned MI Trainer, Jackie Webb (who has been working extensively with Children’s Services since 2020) to offer an Introduction to Motivational Interviewing which is accessible for all Somerset agencies and will run until March 2024.

Below we hear from Jackie Webb who talks to us about what MI is and how you can use it to enhance your work with families:

Could Motivational Interviewing be helpful in my role?

Have you ever felt frustrated about having repeated conversations with someone who needs to change, who may even seem interested in your advice and then they just don’t do it?

Or have you found it tricky to engage people who seem ‘resistant’ to change in spite of everyone’s efforts to get them to see that what they are doing is unhelpful or harmful?

You may have wondered if there might be a different way of having these types of conversations.

If so, then you might be interested in finding out more about Motivational Interviewing…

Motivational Interviewing has been around since 1983 when William R. Miller started noticing the impact of changing the way he had conversations with people who had alcohol problems. Since the early days of MI, when the approach got its evidence base from helping people with substance use problems, MI has now expanded into a broad range of settings; GP practice, dentistry, midwifery, management of diabetes, weight loss, smoking cessation, schools, children’s social care and most recently, sports coaching. There are now over 2000 Randomised Control Trials studying the impact of this approach on behaviour change. There is something generalisable about this approach that professionals are looking for.

I have been using MI in a range of settings since 1995 when I qualified as a social worker and started my working life as a probation officer. I have also used MI in a Youth Offending Team, in a specialist drug and alcohol service and as a manager in children’s services. I am now a certified MI trainer and member of MINT (Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers) and have been helping staff in Somerset Council to learn and embed this approach over the past three years. Social Workers and other social care staff receive a 3- day introduction to MI as well as regular development groups and webinars to help people gain proficiency.

Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership have asked me to provide a shorter introductory session to professionals who work in partnership with Somerset Council to help develop a better understanding of how Children’s Services is working and invite people to consider how some of the principles and skills might (or might not) fit in their workplace. The training is designed to be fun, interactive and non-threatening.

If you have any questions about these training sessions please get in touch at

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