Motivating Student Change: It Is So Hard When They Have To, But Easy When They Want To Robert J. Chapman, PhD La Salle University, Philadelphia
Receiving Referrals • Whether by self-referral or mandate, remember that an assessment is something done with a student and not to a student • Explore student views on why they are there • “Sometimes you have to give folks what they want in order to get the chance to give them what they need.”
Getting Started • Students are more likely to share their stories than to tell us their business. • Discuss the student’s views on why she or he is present…not to question them, but to ensure that you understand them • Ask for permission to start the interview • Ask open ended questions that present the opportunity for practitioners to listen
Recognize the True Student Expert • Students are the experts on themselves. We do not tell students what they need to know but rather make it convenient for them to tell us. Try asking: • What are the good things about use? • What are the less good things about use? • Explore the nexus of “good things/less good things” and positive and negative consequences of use
What’s the Point? • You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink…but you can make it thirsty • No student enjoys the less good things about drinking, therefore foster any ambivalence regarding change • Query discrepancies in short term and longer term objectives • Remember to confront the behavior and not the student…hate the sin but love the sinner
Fostering Awareness…But of What? • Students know what they learn and learn what they are taught When the student is ready the teacher will appear • Help students to see normal or usual behavior through a new set of lenses, e.g., • Translate normal amounts into standard drinks • Translate usual measures of total consumption, e.g., cups, into pints/quarts/gallons
Where Do We DirectStudent Attention? • Students are more likely to move towards what they want than away from what we don’t want for them • They are more likely to explore consuming fewer calories or spending less money than they are in drinking fewer beers • They are more likely to discuss adding time between drinks than consider cutting back
Appeal to Logic • You know best what you do most: Contemplating change means taking a risk, i.e., doing something new or strange • Demonstration: • Lace your fingers; notice which are on top of which • Separate and re-lace with the opposite fingers on top. • How does it feel? What do you want to do? Guess what students think when we ask them to drink less?
Getting Started with Change • You have to cut a hole in the ice before you can catch any fish • Start with the basics and never assume that the basics are inherently understood • For example, use scaling exercises • Where on a scale of from 0 to 10 would you place the likelihood of changing your use behavior? • Then…“You seem to have been giving some thought to change; why ‘X’ in stead of ‘X – 2’? What would have to happen for this to be ‘X + 2’?
Do Not Argue • Whether the pitcher hits the stone or the stone hits the pitcher, it’s going to be bad for the pitcher • No point is worth arguing if the result is a student feeling humiliated or coming to see the counselor as a know-it-all • An argument (with a student) to avoid risk may actually become his/her argument for continuing a course of action • Reactance theory
Wants vs. Needs • Change happens when one is able to discern between, “What I want” & “What I need” • Although this happens naturally, i.e., developmental theory, our job is to hasten the process • Explore the pros and cons of changing and not changing, e.g., 2 X 2 table • Remember what the Rollin’ Stones said, • You can’t always get what you want…but if you try, you just might find, you get what you need.
The “Aha” Experience • It is so hard when I have to and so easy when I want to. Sondra Anise Barnes • You know you have succeeded when a student says, • “I know what I need to do” • Reports earlier conversations as original insight… • …and you resist the temptation to say, “Well…it’s about time you got it… • Instead you proffer, “You know, I think you are on to something.”
About the Author • Robert J. Chapman, PhD • Coordinator, AOD Program La Salle University, Philadelphia, PA • PA Regional Coordinator for The Network: Addressing collegiate alcohol & other drug issues • Contact information: 484-802-0648 email@example.com