Last month, 10KW launched Motivational Interviewing (MI) training with our team in Cebu, Philippines. Providing evidence-based, trauma-informed training for 10KW staff was a key recommendation from our recent 2018 Program Assessment. [1]

The program is led by Dr. Laura Cordisco Tsai (10KW’s Program and Learning Advisor) and Ivy F. Seballos-Llena (Motivational Interviewing Trainer) who have been utilizing MI with survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence in the Philippines for many years.

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Clinical psychologists, Willam R. Miller, and Stephen Rollnick, who developed MI, define it as follows:

Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person’s own motivation and commitment to change. [2]

Because MI is goal-oriented and takes place within an environment of acceptance and compassion, it calls forth a person’s own motivation for change and develops a relationship with the client where the practitioner isn’t the expert.

Why Use Motivational Interviewing?

Most people find change difficult and can have mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about it. For 10KW clients, who have experienced some of the worst things people can do to others, Motivational Interviewing can be used to call forth the client’s own motivation for change.

Whether 10KW clients are addressing situations in their lives like substance abuse or intimate partner violence, or they desire to reach their goals but face structural barriers in this pursuit (like wanting to go to college, but needing to complete high school certification first, etc.), MI can help forge a way forward.

When a person tries to impose motivation externally, this can hinder the change process, as it makes people become defensive. Instead of imposing motivation from the outside, MI focuses on drawing forth the intrinsic motivation within the person.

“MI acknowledges that change is hard and that all of us exhibit ambivalence about change,” says Dr. Laura Cordisco Tsai. “When a person tries to impose motivation externally, this can hinder the change process, as it makes people become defensive. Instead of imposing motivation from the outside, MI focuses on drawing forth the intrinsic motivation within the person.”

Here are the 3 ways Motivational Interviewing is helping us serve survivors of trafficking better:

1. Evidence-Based & Trauma-Informed

MI promotes positive behavior change and has been successful with a wide range of people in various settings who are experiencing different challenges. Not only does MI research show high levels of client satisfaction, but it is also a culturally relevant practice and can work well with other evidence-based practices.

“This is such a good approach for our clients,” says Jonna E, 10KW Philippines Director. “It is a concrete way to help our entire staff communicate in ways that are consistent with client-centered approaches.”

While Motivational Interviewing is hard to master, as the 10KW Philippines team becomes proficient in the method, it will enhance how we are able to support survivors of violence and exploitation.

2. An Empowerment Approach

“Change does not happen easily. It takes time.” – Ivy F. Seballos-Llena, Motivational Interviewing Trainer

MI is consistent with 10KW values of human dignity and client-centered programs. The empowerment approach of MI gives back to the client the power and control lost during their experiences of abuse and exploitation.

“For someone who has had control taken away from them, respect for their own agency and readiness is vital,” says Dr. Laura Cordisco Tsai.

Change does not happen easily. It takes time.

When working with survivors of violence and exploitation, the tendency can be to tell clients what they should be doing. However, this is not effective in fostering change. Instead of using a prescriptive process, MI allows a counselor to work with a client at their own pace.

After the first two days of MI training, one 10KW Philippines staff member said: “I know that you cannot generalize approaches for everyone.”

3. Boosting Basic Clinical Skills

“We have to change our ‘righting reflex.’ Learning MI requires a lot of unlearning.” – Ivy F. Seballos-Llena

Like most frontline staff working with survivors of trafficking and exploitation in the Philippines, many 10KW staff members don’t have clinical training. [3] MI is a concrete conversation style that 10KW staff can learn, and in so doing, gain basic clinical skills like asking open-ended questions, reflective listening, and acknowledging the client as the center of their own story.

“What makes MI difficult to master is our natural tendency to make things right.” – 10KW staff member.

Not only does MI provide tools and strategies for staff to offer to survivors, but it also enables staff to operationalize 10KW’s values and its empowerment approach.

“The spirit of MI is based upon four vital components: partnership, acceptance, compassion, and evocation of the client’s own goals and desires for change,” Dr. Cordisco Tsai says. “Learning MI provides 10KW staff with a practical set of skills for engaging with clients in a strengths-based manner.”

10KW Executive Director, Jeremy Floyd, says: “As an organization, we are committed to improving so we consistently offer the best services to survivors of abuse and exploitation. Dr. Cordisco Tsai and Ms. Seballos-Llena are the pioneers in applying MI with survivors of violence and exploitation in the Philippines. We are truly grateful that they are able to share their expertise with our staff.”

Dr. Cordisco Tsai and Ms. Seballos-Llena are pioneers in applying MI with survivors of violence and exploitation in the Philippines. We are truly grateful that they are able to share their expertise with our staff.

Over the next eight months, Ivy F. Seballos-Llena and Dr. Laura Cordisco Tsai will co-lead technical MI training sessions with 10KW staff in Cebu, Philippines. The combination of an international trafficking expert and a highly experienced Filipina on the ground able to guide the staff through this process is important. Between technical training workshops, 10KW staff will participate in monthly MI learning communities where they will practice these skills and have regular mentorship.

 

[1] The 2018 Program Assessment was the first qualitative review of 10KW’s program in Cebu, Philippines. Led by Dr. Laura Cordisco Tsai, the review intentionally sought input and feedback from clients, staff, and partners, in order to improve programming in the years to come.  

[2] Miller & Rollnick. 2013, p. 29.

[3] This was noted in the 2018 Program Assessment.