Motivational interviewing method treats the whole person

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Strengthening mental health services -

Drawing from her 16 years as a senior addictions counselor with the province, Jody MacLennan says Islanders recovering from addiction have one thing in common.

“Very rarely do people come in with just one challenge. It’s rare there is just one thing they are looking at changing. And it’s all connected health-wise.”

MacLennan, who works at the Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility in Mount Herbert, says many people battling addictions have overlapping trauma and anxiety and need both consistency and stability to get well.

Jody sees half-dozen clients every day and also works with groups. Some of her clients are mandated by probation services, some are referred by child and family services, some are self referred for addiction to drugs, alcohol and/or gambling.

“It’s about showing up - not giving up when you get knocked down - trying again,” she says.

Jody recently received designation with Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) at an international conference in Ireland. She’s been using these skills to help her addictions colleagues develop their own motivational interviewing (MI) skills. 

MI is a practical, empathetic, and short-term process that takes into consideration how difficult it is to make life changes.

Counselling using the motivational interviewing method helps people deal with their feelings and find the internal motivation needed to change their behaviour. This kind of intervention can also prepare people - especially those who may start off unmotivated or unprepared for change - to be open to further, more specific types of therapy.

Mental Health and Addictions workers on Prince Edward Island work collaboratively across the province. MacLennan says collaboration with other professionals who work in mental health and addictions support is essential for success.

“We offer caring services to treat the whole person,” MacLennan said. “People who are suffering are not happy with where their life is - and through MI we can help them understand they deserve to have a better life.”

A  Charlottetown native, Jody began her career at the federal women’s prison in Truro, Nova Scotia after graduating from Carleton University.

“I was seeing so many offenders who were there because of drug and alcohol addictions. I wanted a chance to do some more preventative work, and to help people make different choices before they ended up in jails and institutions."

She says it’s challenging work, but when she hears from former clients who have been helped and are living happier, healthier lives now, she feels such reward.

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