Mission Possible: Motivational Interviewing for Moving Farm Families Forward

Motivational interviewing encourages one to help individuals discover their interest in change and making a change in their lives, farm business, and/or production practices.  It is a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change.  It is designed for a consultant or service provider to explore the farmers’ own reasons for change and guide the conversation to help them strengthen their personal motivation and commitment to change with a plan.  It is for the person helping the farmer to “not fix the problem” but to use listening and communication skills to help the farmer acknowledge and articulate the need and motivation for change, providing ownership of their decision.

Extension Dairy & Livestock Agent Tina Kohlman and Agriculture Agent Stephanie Plaster co-developed and -presented “Mission Possible:  Motivational Interviewing for Moving Farm Families Forward” at the 2019 National Association of County Agriculture Agents Annual Meeting & Professional Improvement Conference to over 30 individuals.  As part of the presentation, Kohlman taught key communication skills as well as the strategies in motivational interviewing, including:

  • Active listening (exploring with open-ended questions, affirming past and current acknowledgments and successes, reflective listening, and  summarize)
  • Listening and recognizing the farmers’  “sustain” and “change” talk, and responding in a manner to help the farmer move from sustain (or the status quo) to change.
  • Planning and implementation of change
  • How to seek permission and provide advice


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