A spring webinar series on Motivational Interviewing techniques

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It’s one thing to receive training in the evidence-based practice of Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) and quite another to actually do SBIRT.

SBIRT sounds great.  Per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:

SBIRT is a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for persons with substance use disorders, as well as those who are at risk of developing these disorders. Primary care centers, hospital emergency rooms, trauma centers, and other community settings provide opportunities for early intervention with at-risk substance users before more severe consequences occur.

And its component parts don’t seem too complicated:

Screening: Figuring out if a person’s substance use is risky using a validated screening survey (several are free to download from the Internet)

Brief Intervention: If the screen shows risky use, initiating a brief conversation using motivational interviewing techniques

Referral to Treatment: If the level of risk is high enough, offering more information about treatment resources

Badda bing, badda boom.  Next!


As the federally-designated national SBIRT coordinating center, we know it’s not actually so simple.  Healthcare settings, where SBIRT is often implemented, are complex places.  And the issue of substance use itself is complex…and often uncomfortable.  An SBIRT training can get you started, but it can’t possibly anticipate all the snags and surprises you’ll encounter once you’re up and running.

This spring, IRETA is hosting an online training series designed to hone in on one of the key ingredients to SBIRT: the brief intervention.  During most of our SBIRT trainings, we talk about the spirit of Motivational Interviewing (MI) and offer some techniques for clinicians to use during a brief intervention.  During face-to-face trainings, participants often have a chance to role-play and practice these techniques.

Of course, this introduction is just the tip of the MI iceberg.

“MI is a much more extensive therapeutic approach than can be learned in an SBIRT training,” explains longtime SBIRT trainer Jim Aiello. “While the effectiveness of the brief intervention is enhanced by the ability to apply some of the ‘tools’ of MI, achieving proficiency in Motivational Interviewing takes special training, time and practice.”

Therefore, our “Tips for Enhancing a Brief Intervention” webinar series is not designed to be MI training, but will focus on how MI techniques can be applied to the SBIRT process by specifically addressing issues related to sleep, nutrition, stress and anger.  The goal of a brief intervention is to address the ambivalence a person often has toward behavior change so  that he or she begins to think about (and even plan for) healthy behavior changes.

Register for our webinar series


There you are, face-to-face with a patient, having taken the plunge and initiated a conversation about drug and alcohol use, and she responds,

“Well, I can’t sleep unless I smoke marijuana, so, yeah.  It’s better than taking sleeping pills every night.”

Another patient explains that he thinks alcohol helps him to be a better dad, less irritable with his kids, less stressed in the evening.

Drawing out these areas of ambivalence may be a valuable step in helping a client move toward positive behavior change.  How do you “roll with resistance” in response?  What information can you offer that might be helpful?  How can you strengthen a client’s sense of hope and confidence that difficulties with sleep, anger, and stress can be overcome without the use of drugs and alcohol?

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Sleep, nutrition, stress and anger are legitimate issues that affect people’s everyday lives and are often connected to substance use.  Learn how to discuss these topics and provide genuinely useful information while delivering a brief intervention that will strengthen a person’s own motivation and commitment to change.

Led by expert MI trainers Victoria Lahey, MS Ed, NCC, Irene Kane, PhD, MSN, RN, CNAA, HFI, and Monica Berry, the “Tips for Enhancing a Brief Intervention” webinar series consists of three parts:

Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Anger Issues

Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Stress Management & Resilience

Friday, May 2, 2014 – Nutrition, Diet & Sleep

Register for our webinar series

As always, registration for the webinar series is free. For a small fee, 1.0 NAADAC or PA CADC CEU is available upon completion of each presentation (up to 3.0 CEUs for the series).

Miss one?  No problem.  You’ll be able to view it on-demand on our Webinar Library.


Watch our most recent webinars on MI led by the very skillful (and funny) Mr. Alan Lyme, MSW, ICADC, ICCS:

Overview of Motivational Interviewing as Used in Brief Interventions, Part 1 of 2

Overview of Motivational Interviewing as Used in Brief Interventions, Part 2 of 2

Watch quick examples of Motivational Interviewing featuring Alan Lyme:

Motivational Interviewing – A Bad Example

Motivational Interviewing – A Good Example

Visit IRETA’s Toolkit for SBIRT to download tools for clients, counselors, and organizations