After the Webinar: Motivational Interviewing for Coaching and Supervision. Q&A with Denise Beagley

Webinar presenter Denise Beagley answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Motivational Interviewing for Coaching and Supervision. Here are some of her responses.


Audience Question: Can you clarify if you're in an emergency situation like evacuating people from a burning building or directing people to move away from danger. There's nothing wrong with a directing communication style — it's the situation and matching the style to the situation, is that right?

Denise Beagley: Yes. Absolutely. In my job with crisis, there are times when I go out on a call and get automatically dispatched to a house fire and I'm often the liaison between the firefighters, police and the occupants of the building. There are times when people want to run into their home — it is instinctive to save pets, people, but we let the professionals do that and I keep them. I'm very much into saving and protecting that person.

In an event of school shooting, there is nothing wrong with going into that directing-helping style. Or if they had a situation at the prison where they had to use that directing style. There's nothing wrong with that. Once you're looking at that behavior change, for me, it categorizes when is it appropriate. If I'm looking for behavior change and I'm directing people, I'm not MI-adherent. I'm not in the zone. If I want my kid to change their behavior, I need to shift to the guiding style because I know my kids don't like being told what to do. I don't think any of us do, honestly. If I feel supported, that's a little bit different.

So of course, yes, you definitely look at the situation. You look at the severity, obviously saving lives is the most important thing and so we would shift our gears when it's appropriate. I hope that's helpful, maybe go back and look at that stop light that I put together because that's always in my head when I'm working in my crisis job.



Audience Question: In dealing with our staff as a coach, I prefer to find progress and build on it. But at the other end of that is turning up the heat. What do you think?

Denise Beagley: That is a loaded question. You can push that envelope a little bit when you're providing that elicit-provide-elicit, that's a tool I use a lot. I work at the university and I end up having a lot of student workers. I'm going to be honest, I was a student once too, there are varying degrees of motivation. When everybody's getting paid the same amount of money to do the work, there are some that are really invested and some that aren't. Looking at that, when do I push for that change essentially? 

If a person is telling me they're a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, we ask them, "How motivated are you to make this change? Where 1 is not motivated at all, and middle ground – 5 is ambivalence, and 10 is motivated. If someone says they're a 10 but they're not doing anything to move, I'm going to question that 10. I'm going to say jokingly, "This one doesn't go to 11". Let's walk back a second and when you were an 8 or a 9, what did that look for your motivation to make this change? I think that's all part of it. We can kind of get them to explain to us where they're at and why they gave themselves that rating. I don't think there's a problem there at all. And I think that will help ignite them to make that decision. I would love to come back and provide more training on MI and get more into the skills. When we look at the dancer's steps, their desire, their ability to make that change, their willingness, those are all things that we can use on that scaling.



Audience Question: I would like to start the process to get into an MI Academy. What steps do you recommend and when is the next one?

Denise Beagley:  I think we haven't scheduled one yet, we just had one in January and what happens is you go to two intense days of training. Even if you had Motivational Interviewing or not, we kind of cover the basics in day 1 and then day 2, it's hit the ground running — using these skills, it's more of a workshop. And then, you provide a sample of the baseline. And then you can submit again, part of the pricing of this class, we kind of compare the two with that tool that I showed you briefly.

We're probably going to have something in the July area. If you go to our website, we have conferences, myself and my co-workers will be speaking at our summer institute. If you go to our landing page there, it's on the very first slide of my presentation, it's You can see our learning events as well. You can always email me too.



Audience Question: Do you have any recommendations for managing perceptions? Say, a supervisor uses a guiding-coaching session, but the employee still feels it as if attacking?  

Denise Beagley: Are any of those Gordon roadblocks happening? That's why I included that study is because we often think we're doing more than we are, and we're human — so there's going to be days when we're happier than others. I think of myself, as a crisis worker, am I the same person on my 24 hours shift or 36 hours shift at 2 o'clock in the morning or 2 o'clock in the afternoon. It's really depending on my day. So, I always have to keep that in check that this is this person's emergency. And just like our employee, to them, it's personal, it's their life and their job. So, we really need to make sure and check in ourselves. I would kind of investigate like any of those Gordon roadblocks… Are we persuading? Are we confronting people without using those MI skills? I hope that helps. It was permissible because they ask for it.



Audience Question: It sounds like MI helps in rapport building, something that a lot of our probation and parole officers need to be able to do. Am I interpreting this correctly?

Denise Beagley:  Absolutely. I've been training in the corrections field and what's funny is, day 1 of a 2-day training we did for. Day 1, pretty salty group, they would say, "I'm not hugging a thug, you aren't making us into social workers". And by the end of day 2, they're like, "This is amazing". We showed them studies, and videos that this reduces violence against correctional officers, that is aids rapport building. We're looking at it from a reducing reentry, it's a reentry grant that we're working on. That you create that connection for that person and you're investing in them, so they invest in themselves.

It's really a beautiful thing when that synergy starts happening. You start to see people shift and change and I just love it. That's why I do this job, it's so amazing to see. To flip that switch and you start to see how this can be useful. It is a natural verbal de-escalator and if you can connect with somebody. We joke about the side hugs and the front hugs. You don't have to do a full-frontal hug, you can do a fist-bump. You can somehow connect with that person.

And they're also concerned with I don't want a 601, which is an investigation of being too close to an inmate, and that's also common in other areas. This really isn't about you, if you're bringing your personal faults into this, then it is going to get muddied waters. But it's really about the person and where they're at. You focus on the employee or the inmate, or the client.


Click Here to View a Recording of Denise Beagley's presentation, Motivational Interviewing for Coaching and Supervision.

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