motivational interviewing

Motivational Interviewing: How to Determine if Your Teenager is Ready for Change

The notion of therapy can conjure up ideas hope, support, and the development of skills necessary to instill longstanding changes. As a parent, you may have identified certain challenges or problematic behaviors that involvement in therapy can resolve, but what if your teenager does not share the same sentiments? Although there may be concrete goals and clear areas for improvement, if the client involved does not see the need to modify their behavior, change may be slow to occur. To determine if your teenager is ready to commit to change, motivational interviewing can assess if your child is willing to address the need for adjustment.

Here are the stages of motivational interviewing:

  1. Pre-contemplation: Here the client is not even aware of the presented problem and therefore is not motivational interviewingcommitted to change due to the lack of incite.
  2. Contemplation: The client is aware of problematic behavior but is cautious or uncertain about wanting to change the presented concern.
  3. Determination: The client has identified that change is something they want but are not sure how to achieve desired change.
  4. Action: The client is working towards making changes but is not stable in the change process (i.e. some changes have been made and the client is learning how to eliminate relapse to previous problematic behaviors).
  5. Maintenance: The client has achieved the changes they desired to make and work towards maintaining changed behaviors.
  6. Recurrence: The client has experienced a recurrence of the problem and works towards implementing newly acquired strategies to resolve the problem.

To evaluate the efficacy of therapeutic intervention, it is helpful to understand where the client is in the process of identification, acceptance, and desire for change of the presented problem. For example, if you determine there to be a problem with excess video gaming behavior, fearing that your child is addicted and anti-social in the process, if your child does not see this behavior as problematic, it may be hard for him to invest in change. If the child is in the pre-contemplation phase of change, sit down with him and identify the concerns inherent in the behavior (benefits and consequences of perceived changes) to help motivate the desire for change. It is important for the concerns of the child and the concerns of the parent to be transparent and in alignment to incite change.

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker can help you with talking to your teen as well.

Click here to read how you can support your teen into the transition to adulthood.