In effective practice occurs and perseverance is strengthened

In the article, Integrating Motivational Interviewing into a Basic Counseling Skills Course to Enhance Counseling Self-Efficacy, the authors focus on self-efficacy in counseling by observing nineteen graduates at the beginning of their course that integrated motivational interviewing (MI) and again, at the end of their course. The authors begin by defining self-efficacy as “a counselor’s belief about his or her ability to effectively counsel a client in the near future” (161). Self-efficacy is a vital aspect in a counselor as it “holds the assumption that self-efficacy is the instrument through which effective practice occurs and perseverance is strengthened for navigating challenging professional scenarios” (162). Self-efficacy is developed through practicing and mastering each skill through their own self-awareness and reflective practices. The students are offered opportunities to develop their self-efficacy skills through role-playing, modeling, and receiving practice feedback to prepare them for real clients and any challenges they may face. Counselors with higher self-efficacy will have increased confidence in their abilities therefore will be of more assistance when working with a client as well as reduce any anxiety the counselor may have.
Motivational Interviewing is “a collaborative, person-centered counseling style intended to elicit and explore clients’ personal motivations to change in an accepting and compassionate environment” that focuses on partnership, acceptance, compassion, and evocation (162) as well as engaging, focusing, evoking and planning (163). The idea behind MI is for the counselor to work with the client by “supporting client autonomy, expressing accurate empathy, and reflecting client strengths and attributes through genuine affirmations” (163). MI is goal-directed as the counselor intentionally moves with the client to explore and resolve client ambivalence that may be interfering with the client’s ability/motivation to change. Furthermore, the counselor will assist the client to promote his or her personal motivations to initiate and strengthen the positive behavior change throughout the course of the counseling relationship. Throughout the four phases of MI, counselors will meet clients when they are in their unique process of change, which will lead the counselor to respond to the individualized needs and circumstances of each client. This will serve as a guideline for counselor trainees to engage clients in “the counseling process, establish a working therapeutic relationship, focus on specific client goals, and develop a plan for change by teaching basic counselling skills and strengthening these skills by providing students with opportunities to practice and challenge themselves by working with clients who face various challenges” (163).
Method
In this experiment, the nineteen graduates were required to use two textbooks, complete four video-recorded demonstrations, and complete each of the written assignments. In addition to the required materials, supplementary readings were made available and feedback was provided to the counselor-in-training from classmates, instructors, and teaching assistants. At the beginning of the course and again after completing the course, the students completed the Counselor Estimate of Self-Efficacy (COSE), a self-administered counselor self-efficacy questionnaire. The questionnaire was a 37-item measure of self-efficacy on a 6-point Likert scale. To further measure the students, during the final class meeting, qualitative data was collected via an open-ended questionnaire with five questions.
Results
The COSE indicated that none of the students demonstrated a decrease in self-efficacy and one student’s score did not change between the pretest and posttest (167-168). The results indicated that a significant improvement occurred at the .0005 level in the initial COSE score compared to the posttest. Based on the feedback from the open-ended questionnaire, the participants indicated that the class instruction was useful and valuable, and felt they had learned practical and effective skills (168).
Discussion
The current study indicated significant differences between the participant’s self-efficacy pretests and posttests. This difference can be the result of the course that incorporated motivational interviewing (MI) as an effective aspect that enhanced the student’s beliefs that they can be successful counseling clients. Self-doubt was continuously expressed from the students when asked how they might incorporate the skills from their education and trainings into sessions with “actual clients”. The students further expressed concerns in understanding how to utilize the skills across various theoretical orientations. It is typical for counselors to experience discomfort and self-doubt as they begin their process of becoming a counselor. By incorporating MI into basic counseling skills, it fostered people-responsive counseling skills and allowed the “counselors” opportunities to practice their skills and how to respond to stress-invoking situations.
Conclusion
In the article, Integrating Motivational Interviewing into a Basic Counseling Skills Course to Enhance Counseling Self-Efficacy, the authors investigate graduate students’ self-efficacy prior to completing the course in comparison to their self-efficacy after completing it. As any study does, the current study had its limitations. While the results indicated that the students’ self-efficacy increased after completing the counseling course. The course provided the students the skills and opportunity to develop their self-efficacy as reported in the qualitative report. Overall the students reported an overall positive experience. In the study, the authors used numerous research articles to support their findings. It may have benefitted the study if it had incorporated and compared the overall results to another control group or a similar study.
The study is valuable as it exemplifies benefits of motivational interviewing in addition to traditional textbooks, lectures, and written assignments. The overall content discussed in the article can further our knowledge of the counseling dynamic as it prepares us for our education in preparation of becoming a counselor. The current study is valuable as it illustrates the benefits of motivational interviewing and ensuring counselors-in-training receive sufficient opportunities to practice their skills. By practicing their counseling skills and learning to deal with challenges that may occur in real sessions, the counselors further develop their self-efficacy thus, will be more confident in their abilities as a counselor.

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