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Health and Medicine

Helping the homeless through motivation
Part of forum on helping homeless people with mental or substance abuse problems

Kabir Bhatia
In The Region:
A Stark County advocacy group is exploring the needs of homeless people who might also have mental or substance abuse issues. The county Mental Health Recovery Board hosted a summit Friday at Stark State College, and presenters discussed alternative ways to reach out to the homeless.

Jeremy Evenden, with the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at Case Western Reserve University, taught attendees the open-ended “motivational interviewing” technique and how it can be used when admitting someone to a shelter.  He says it engages people’s needs instead of confronting them with their problems.
Helping the homeless through motivation

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“It’s been said that motivational interviewing is more like a dance than a wrestling match.  We’re working together, we’re trying to collaborate together, and in doing so we’re making progress.  I’m not trying to get you to submit to what I want you to do.  That takes a lot longer.  So the outcome [is] better relationships with your clients.  They open up more; they trust you more.”

Evenden and his colleagues have trained social workers and health professionals throughout Ohio in the technique.  He says the approach allows homeless people a smoother, quicker path back to recovery if substance abuse issues are involved.
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