Course Overview

This lesson will explore various efforts to achieving effective engagement, and also, the traps to watch out for in engagement. We practice finding focus in client statements, and look at the different forms focus can take in our client interviews. Multiple opportunities are provided for you to test your understanding throughout the lesson.

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Credit Hours: MCBAP-R (0.0) MCBAP-S (1.0) Mi-CEC (1.0) Nursing (0.0)
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Topics Covered

Effective Engagement 

Engagement is about helping the client to feel confident and comfortable that we can establish a good working relationship. It is the first process of motivational interviewing and be successfully reached before moving on to the focusing process. The best predictor for client outcomes is the client’s view of engagement with staff. We look at six important client questions in relation to engagement.

Engagement “Traps”

Six interviewing traps that can foster dis-engagement are the: question/answer trap, expert trap, premature focus trap, labeling trap, blaming trap, and chat trap. We explore each of these traps in greater detail and use examples to aid in your understanding. We provide opportunities for you to test your knowledge on engagement traps by identifying the example that belongs to each trap.

Quality of Engagement Factors

Promoting effective engagement begins with attention to common sense detail. We explore six efforts that can increase engagement, and, two efforts that are important to establishing and maintaining engagement. We provide an opportunity for you to test your understanding on engagement by reading two interviewer statements and deciding which one is most likely to avoid traps and promote effective engagement.

Finding Focus

In the focusing process, staff and clients work together to identify the important topics or issues that will provide specific direction for staff/client interactions. In client speech there can be a complex mix of needs and concerns that cannot all be effectively addressed at the same time. The MI process of focusing can proceed by exploring any or all of three general sources of focus: the client, the setting, and the staff person’s expertise. We explore each of these sources in greater detail and provide explanations for how it related to an example interview dialogue.

Staff Perspectives

Three staff expectations regarding focusing that we can bring to the process are: Tolerate uncertainty, share control, search for client assets and doorways to change that are accessible to them. Information on each of the three expectations is further explored, and example responses responses are provided. We also ask you to decide which of the two responses is the best example for sharing control in the focusing process.

Focusing Situations

Three situations we may encounter regarding focusing are: Clear direction, choices in direction, unclear direction. We define each of these situations and present an example to show what each situation may look like, and, effective methods that could help. An opportunity is provided for you to test your understanding on the difference between these three situations.

Additional Considerations

Research tells us that the staff’s view of whether a good, effective relationship exists has no effect on outcome, but the client’s view of the relationship is highly linked to outcomes. “The relationship is in the eye of the beholder.”


Course Objectives

  1. Review the components of effective engagement.
  2. Identify six interviewing traps that are barriers to effective engagement.
  3. Consider other factors that can influence the quality of engagement.
  4. Explore three sources of focus.
  5. Review staff skills that enhance focusing.
  6. Define three situations that require effective focusing.

What People Are Saying

It was easy to use. I liked the fact that I could listen to the narrator instead of reading all the information myself.

- Mike S.