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What Does it mean to Evoke?

While the previous lesson showed how you and your mentee can set a direction, or focus for change, this lesson focuses on the process of evoking a desire to change in your mentee. But what does this mean?

Evoking focuses on your ability to bring about and strengthen your mentee’s own motivation and commitment to change by recognizing change talk, evoking it, responding to it, and developing a discrepancy for it. As such, as mentors using MI, you could say that your job is to help your mentee convince themselves to change.

Recognizing Change Talk

In order to properly recognize change talk, it is important to know the different types of change talk. The two types of change talk are Preparatory Change Talk and Mobilizing Change Talk. These statements provide insight into a mentee’s readiness and motivation for change:

Preparatory Change Talk: Preparatory Change Talk refers to mentee statements that indicate their contemplation and willingness to change their behavior, although they may not yet be committed to taking specific action. It reflects a shift in the mentee’s mindset towards change. Preparatory Change Talk can take various forms, including:

  • Desire: The mentee expresses a desire or wish to change, such as “I want to be healthier.”
  • Ability: The mentee acknowledges their ability or self-efficacy to make the change, saying, “I think I can do this.”
  • Reasons: The mentee articulates reasons or motivations for changing, such as “I’m tired of feeling this way” or “I want to be a better role model for my kids.”
  • Need: The mentee recognizes a need for change, such as “I really should cut back on smoking for my health.”

Mobilizing Change Talk: Mobilizing Change Talk is a more advanced form of mentee discourse in MI, where the mentee expresses a clear commitment to change and takes steps toward action. This type of talk indicates that the mentee is ready to make specific plans and set goals to achieve the desired change. Mobilizing Change Talk often includes statements like:

  1. Commitment (C): Commitment represents statements where the person expresses a clear intention to take action or make a change. It indicates a readiness to commit to specific steps. Example statements:
    • “I am going to start going to the gym three times a week.”
    • “I’m committed to attending therapy sessions regularly.”
  2. Activation (A): Activation, also known as Taking Steps (T), signifies statements where the person discusses concrete plans or actions they have taken or intend to take to achieve the desired change. Example statements:
    • “I’ve already signed up for a yoga class.”
    • “I’m scheduling regular check-ins with my accountability partner.”

In MI, practitioners actively listen for and encourage both Preparatory and Mobilizing Change Talk, as they indicate the mentee’s evolving readiness for behavior change. By reflecting and amplifying these types of talk, mentors can help mentees strengthen their commitment to change and support them in developing concrete action plans to achieve their goals.

Evoking Change Talk

It is important that mentors ask the right questions to evoke change talk. The right questions will help ensure that your mentee uses change talk as opposed to sustain talk. This can be accomplished by sticking to open ended questions and avoiding questions that will have your mentee giving reasons as to why they haven’t changed yet. With proper practice you can even ask questions that specifically target each of the DARN CATs. Of course, it will be easier to start with the ones associated with Preparatory change talk. For example, to get a mentee to talk about a desire you could ask them “What would you like to change about your [insert focus of conversation]?”. If you find that it might be difficult to find the right questions to ask then you are in luck, as there are a variety of techniques that you can use to help find the right questions to ask.

Importance Ruler

The Importance Ruler is an extremely simple, yet very effective technique when it comes to evoking change talk. It begins by asking a very simple question related to a persons level of motivation, often phrased like this:

“On a scale of 1 – 10 how motivated do you feel to make this change?”

When your mentee gives their response, no matter what it is, ask them why they didn’t say a lower number. For example, if the respond with a 8 ask them why they didn’t say a seven, if its a 4 ask about a 3. This will get your mentee to think about all of the reasons motivating them to change, thus arguing for it, and creating change talk.

Asking about Extremes

Ask a questions about the extremes of the situation. This usually means that you will either be asking them about their worries if things continue to stay the same, or on the opposite side of things, the best results if their desired change does occur.

Exploring Goals & Values

Learn about what your mentee values most. When you have figured that out, compare and explore the discrepancy between them and their goals as they relate to their current problems. This will be further explored below.

Looking Forward

This is a simple technique where you compare today with a future where the desired change has already occurred. This get them talking about the positives of change.

Looking Back

This technique is used to compare the progress of today with how things were in the past. It can even be helpful to explore a time from before the problem occurred.

Now that you can recognize change talk you might be wondering, how do I respond to it? Use your OARS! Remember, these stood for:

  • Open-ended questions
  • Affirmations
  • Reflections
  • Summaries

Developing Discrepancy

Developing discrepancy can be a very important tool when it comes to increasing your mentee’s motivation towards change. Doing this involves focusing on the difference between their desired and current states of being. For example if your mentee’s biggest issue has to do with their academic performance then you would look at where they want to get to and then compare it to where they are now. Are they hoping to become an A student but currently a C student? There the discrepancy can be easy to see, but it it could be harder to discover in other cases.

It’s not always great to just jump right into this since it can sometimes be uncomfortable or even painful for individuals to face. It’s hard to look at how we are and then look at how we want to be. Knowing this, it is your responsibility to make sure that this discrepancy is developed slowly and carefully so that they can examine it without become defensive.

While this discrepancy may be difficult to face for some, it can prove a very effective motivator for others. This is ONLY the case when the individual believes that narrowing the gap is something that is possible for them. This can be done by strengthening their senses of hope and confidence. Hope is the belief that change is possible, and confidence is the belief that they have the strength to bring about that change.