I am currently on my final week at Food & Friends, an organization that provides meals, groceries, and nutritional counseling to individuals living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses in the DC metropolitan community. During my time, I have been fortunate to work alongside an incredible team of registered dietitians. These dietitians have a variety of responsibilities including nutritional assessments, educations, community classes, kitchen inspections, quality control, and more. While at Food & Friends, I have seen and assisted with many of their tasks.
Conducting nutritional assessments in the community was particularly exciting for me. For this, we traveled to the client's house, introduced ourselves, discussed the program, and completed an assessment. During the assessment, I was excited to see the use of motivational interviewing, which is a technique I learned a great deal about during my undergraduate studies. During the assessment I saw just how useful these skills are when working with clients. For anyone unfamiliar with motivational interviewing, it can be defined as a client-centered counseling technique used to elicit behavior change. The four main techniques involved in motivational interviewing are OARS or open-ended questions, affirmation, reflective listening, and summaries. Below is a brief example of each.
· Open-ended questions
Ask questions such as
“Tell me about…” or “Can you tell me about…?
Promote and pay more attention to change/positive talk than
to resistance talk
· Reflective listening
Paraphrase what the client is saying or expressing, focusing
primarily on the positive talk
Emphasize the costs and benefits of behavior changes
Discuss client’s current status in relation to client’s goals
Practicing and reviewing these techniques and other motivational interviewing skills regularly is important for dietitians in all areas of practice. A great way to review and practice these skills may be with a friend, spouse, or even other dietitians. The dietitians at Food & Friends devote a small section of their weekly staff meeting to reviewing one tip on nutritional counseling. This week, Margery and I are looking forward to presenting another important tip during their meeting. We are even planning on acting out a mini scenario for better clarity and possibly for a little fun!