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Mapping motivation

Can the principles of how best to motivate even the most resistant people – those in active addiction – be applied to other areas of life? Yes!

“Can I use this stuff on myself?” This is by far the most frequently-asked question by people who attend Emerging Horizons‘ MI-Mapping training. This professional development course was designed with recovery in mind, by academics and practitioners with years of experience working in the drug and alcohol treatment field.

By combining the evidence-based concepts of Motivational Interviewing and Node-link mapping, MI-mapping teaches even experienced healthcare workers how best to motivate their most resistant clients, most of whom are in active addiction. By exploring the idea of ‘motivation’, delegates can analyse, challenge and ‘myth-bust’ theories such as ‘will power’, ‘rock bottom’ and ‘addictive personality’.

Something that many addictions professionals have in common is that they don’t focus on the substance, because they know that the concepts used to elicit motivation apply to almost all habit-change. I would add…

“What people in recovery know about motivation is invaluable to the general population”

When the time comes in MI-Mapping to complete training ‘maps’ to help healthcare workers support their clients, almost without fail, they use personal examples and explore and map out their own ‘recovery plan’ – for anything from diet and smoking to professional procrastination and codependency. In the weeks that follow, they often contact me with inspiring reports of their personal achievements, as well as those of their (now) highly-motivated clients.

Further, senior managers and strategic decision-makers book onto the courses, having seen first-hand how frontline staff are benefiting from a greater understanding of how motivation works and how best to sustain it across a range of life-areas. Many now integrate these tools into professional development plans, strategic meetings, change management strategies and HR planning.

The School of Life agreed to pilot an adapted version of the MI-Mapping course in January 2016 as part of its ‘resolutions programme’, entitled ‘Making Changes that Last.’ Feedback was so positive that I was immediately asked to deliver another workshop… and another! Most attendees are frustrated with their inability to make changes in themselves, their partners or colleagues, despite repeatedly resolving to do so. Some feel that their thoughts and behaviours have ‘gone on autopilot’. Many want to develop an indepth insight after a series of quick-fix attempts and feel that a ‘guided-self-help’ approach would be more suited to them than focused interventions.

Emerging trends in effective treatment of addictive behaviour consistently reinforce the value of self-management and sharing of resources, in a move away from an ‘expert vs patient’ culture. Treatment methods are now informed by the evidence of what is already working for people who have managed to keep their unwanted habits at bay without handing themselves over indefinitely to a professional.

While some complex issues and entrenched behaviours require
a more structured approach,
the tools required to change
day-to-day habits can lie entirely
in our own hands.