What is motivational interviewing and how does it help teens on the spectrum?

Parents of teens on the autism spectrum know how hard it is for their child to handle change. But the reality is change is not something we can protect them from. And while teens on the spectrum can thrive with schedules and routine, when it is time for change, there are tools you can use to help prepare them. 

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational interviewing is a practical empathetic and short term process that takes into account how difficult it is to make life changes. It is a counseling method with a trained professional that helps people work through ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior. 

The first goal of Motivational Interviewing is to increase a person’s motivation and the second is for the person to make the commitment to change. Instead of simply stating a need or desire to change, they hear themselves express a commitment out loud, which has been shown to help improve a client’s ability to actually make those changes. The role of the therapist is more about listening than intervening. Motivational interviewing is often combined or followed up with other interventions, such as cognitive therapy, support groups, and stress management training.

How Can Motivational Interview Help Teens on the Spectrum?

Change can be challenging for anyone, but especially for teens on the autism spectrum. But we also know that change is inevitable, and therefore, these teens on the spectrum need tools to help facilitate change. Motivational interviewing is an engaging and encouraging approach to promote change. The principles of motivational interviewing emphasize patience and empathy while promoting insight and self–determination. 

In autism, as in life generally, advice-giving can often have limited impact and a person. Motivational interviewing is a powerful communication tool which can help staff support children around difficult conversations around change, behavior and coping. Motivational interviewing principals are also useful during the preparation, action and maintenance phases of change. Teens can explore the pros and cons of making changes with their counselor and then set specific and reachable goals. 

New Focus Academy Can Help

At New Focus Academy, we assist students with a variety of cognitive, social, and emotional struggles affecting their ability to manage their interpersonal and daily life. We help boys struggling to form and maintain meaningful relationships. Our students face problems related to low-processing, autism spectrum disorder, and other neurodevelopmental issues. We teach students methods to improve their functional living skills including self-care, homework, chores, and leisure planning. We help to empower these students by teaching and practicing social, coping, organizational, and self-care skills in a small, safe environment. As they succeed in the program, they become more confident and self-assured as they deal with day to day life. For more information please call (435) 850-4356.