Evocation: 6 Do’s and Don’ts for this Key to Patient Motivation

By Mia Croyle, MA —

Motivational interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based method of facilitating a collaborative conversation focused on strengthening a person’s own motivation for and commitment to change.

One key element of the style — or spirit — of MI is evocation. Practitioners of MI attempt to convey an understanding that motivation for change, and the ability to move toward that change, reside mostly within the other person. Practitioners focus their efforts on eliciting and expanding that motivation within the interaction.

Practitioners who are less successful at evocation tend to:

  • rely on fact gathering or information‐giving as a means of facilitating change
  • are likely to provide the person with reasons to change, rather than eliciting them

Practitioners who are more successful at evocation tend to:

  • follow up on person’s ideas when the person offers them
  • actively seek to explore person’s ideas when not offered
  • not rely heavily on information or education as a means of persuading people to change
  • actively create opportunities for the person’s own arguments for change to occur

One of the simplest ways of creating these opportunities is to simply ask for them:

“So tell me, what are some of the reasons you might consider doing something different to treat your symptoms of depression?”

In the next issue of the WIPHL Word, I’ll share more strategies for creating these opportunities in your conversations with patients.



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