Integrating Motivational Interviewing into an Entry-level Physical Therapy Curriculum


The purpose of the presentation is to introduce the audience to Motivational Interviewing and then provide a description of one PT program’s experience with integrating MI content into its curriculum.

Methods and/or Description of Project

Modern physical therapy practice and education expectations include skills in communication, cultural competence, assessing a patient’s receptivity to change and providing patient education to enhance health and wellness. Physical therapy students would benefit from a curriculum that specifically addresses these content areas in a more methodical, systematic way. A faculty champion pursued improving the curriculum for an entry-level program and searched for an approach to more effectively deliver the content areas mentioned above. Motivational Interviewing (MI), an empirically supported, client-centered counseling style was identified as a content vehicle to teach and help students develop and achieve expected outcomes in these areas. This presentation will describe one PT program’s experience with integrating MI content into a curriculum.


A faculty champion developed knowledge of MI and was successful in integrating MI content into the curriculum. Results of student confidence in communication, cultural competence, and assessing and facilitating behavior change will be reported (data to be collected in May, 2015).

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education

Shaping the Future of PT Education: The incidence and personal and societal cost associated with chronic disease are significant. Many risk factors are related to personal choice, including activity levels. Adherence to recommended treatment plans and healthy behavior is dismal and needs to improve. Given the time that physical therapists spend with patients and other factors associated with the profession, physical therapists are well positioned to make significant impact on patient behavior. The presenters believe that there is an opportunity to improve the curricula of PT programs with regards to developing student outcomes in patient communication, cultural competence, being able to assess a patient’s receptivity to change and providing education and assistance for patients to make changes to improve health and wellness. MI is consistent with other models and philosophies widely used in PT practice and education, including the Patient-Practitioner Collaborative Model, the ICF-Model, mindfulness, the biopsychosocial model and a patient-centered approach in general. Curricula may lack a systematic, empirically supported methodology to address these curricular content areas and MI may help fill that void.


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Epstein, Ronald M. "Mindful practice in action (II): Cultivating habits of mind."Families, Systems, & Health 21.1 (2003): 11.
Jensen, G.M., Lorish, C. Shepard, K.F. Understanding patient receptivity to change. In Handbook of teaching for physical therapists. Boston, MA., Butterworth Heinemann. 1997; 241-269.
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Course Objectives

Participants will:
Realize the “spirit” of Motivational Interviewing.
Weigh the evidence supporting Motivational Interviewing as a clinical approach.
Identify the key components of Motivational Interviewing
Discover the experience of one faculty member in integrating MI content into a PT program curriculum, including, successes, challenges and future plans.
Examine opportunities and experiences for integrating MI content in participant’s curriculum.

Instructional Methods

Presenters will lecture and lead small and large group discussions.

Tentative Outline/Schedule

Tentative Outline:
0:00-15:00: Introduction of presenters and topic.
15:00-55:00: What is the MI? Evidence related to MI. How is MI practiced?
55:00-70:00: One programs story to integrating MI into the curriculum. Faculty development, curricular options; choices made; assessment; future plans.
70:00-80:00: Small group discussions on opportunities and experiences in developing culturally competent communication skills in students for facilitating behavior change in patients. Question development.
80:00-90:00 Large group sharing of key small group conversations and questions.

BACK to Abstract Results

  • Control #: 2288864
  • Type: Educational Session
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Mr. David Levison, Robert Scales
  • Keywords:

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