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How Does Motivational Interviewing Relate to Financial Health?

How does Motivational Interviewing (MI) relate to financial health? Many people think of MI as a counseling technique or an approach to working with addictions, but it’s really an approach for helping people make changes in their life. In the words of Bill Miller, “Motivational Interviewing is a person-centered, goal-oriented method of communication for eliciting and strengthening intrinsic motivation for positive change.”

At FHI, we know that our relationship to money is more complicated than just a tally of money in versus money out. We all have an emotional relationship to our finances that is influenced by our parents, our early experiences in life, our peers, schooling, socio-economic status, work experience, health status, cultural background, traumatic experiences, romantic partners, pure dumb luck, and on and on… Our financial health is deeply intertwined with all other aspects of our life.

We define financial health as the dynamic relationship of one’s financial and economic resources as they are applied to or impact the state of physical, mental and social well-being. That places financial health deeply within our overall state of well-being.

Because of this, we want to have conversations that evoke reflections on how a person, family or organization uses their financial and economic resources and ultimately how their decisions, behaviors, routines and habits impact their overall well-being. Motivational Interviewing is an approach to having these conversations in a meaningful, respectful and effective way.

The most important aspect of MI is not the skills or strategies you can learn to use (although they are extremely helpful), it’s the spirit in which these conversations are held. The spirit of MI is an approach to conversations, not just a series of methods and exercises. When we work together with the people we may identify as our clients, change is more likely to happen.

Since we all have complicated, emotional relationships with our finances, it’s natural that we would find it difficult to talk about it. When we approach these topics from the spirit of MI, we create a safe and encouraging environment to be vulnerable and share honestly.

The spirit of MI is composed of interrelated elements that support that safe and encouraging environment: collaboration, evocation, respect, empathy, genuineness and autonomy. The elements come together to bring forth the spirit of MI that provides the support we need to develop awareness of our behaviors that impact our financial health and the encouragement we need to make changes happen. We encourage you to join us in this conversation.

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