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Brief Intervention

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Brief Intervention

The goal of a brief intervention is to enhance motivation instead of blaming. Brief intervention will emphasize concepts of Motivational Interviewing (MI), including:

  • Engaging the patient and establishing a trusting non-judgmental collaborative partnership.

  • Focusing on a particular direction or goal with the patient.

  • Evoking motivation or a desire to change within the patient. 

  • Planning happens when the patient moves to change talk and is the stage before action in the cycle of change.

Key Concepts

Another key concept of MI is O.A.R.S. Open-ended questions, Affirmations, Reflective listening, and Summaries. Using open-ended questions allows the patient to convey more information, encourages engagement, and opens the door for exploration. Affirmations are compliments or statements of appreciation and support offering praise and understanding, but they must be done sincerely. Reflective listening means understanding the patient's deeper meaning and strengthens trust and the relationship. Summaries are useful throught the brief intervention to stay on the same page as the patient and can be utilized at the end of the session to make sure the established goals or the discussion was mutually understood.

A brief intervention often involves education of recommended low-risk substance use, engages the participant’s motivations, and combines the education and motivation to elicit a discussion with the individual surrounding change. This discussion may lead to a plan for change which may be facilitated by the interviewer, but ultimately is decided by the interviewee. Moreover, this discussion may not initially lead to a change plan, but planting the seed is an important piece. People will interface with their provider and experience a brief intervention during different times of their natural motivation bell curve.

This Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) SBIRT video Screening and Brief Intervention demonstrates a patient receiving a screening (AUDIT) and brief intervention related to alcohol in a medical setting.

Engaging with the patients

The engagement phase of the interview will begin the brief intervention whit the patient/client. Engagement is crutial to establishing the rapport with the patient. The focus phase of the interview is supported by the screening tool on which the patient scored positive, high, or risky. Evoking motivation or desire to change can be difficult; however, open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections, and summaries can help create decisional balance for the patient to work through. Planning is the last piece of the interview and usually occurs once the patient has moved from decesional balance to change talk.

Brief Intervention at OU

Here at OU, we train students to use the MI skills discussed above. During their didactic our students actively engage and participate with the instructor and each other to learn MI skills. In addition to the didactic training, our students will have the opportunity to practice these skills in social simulation with a live person.