Getting People to Change Behavior Starts with Listening

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Alta’s Hannah Day-Kapell provides a custom motivational interviewing training for Safe Routes to School professionals in Wisconsin.

By: Hannah Mullin, Senior Programs Specialist, Alta Planning + Design

At Alta, our programs team helps communities get the most out of the transportation options available to them. We support residents in diverse communities in overcoming the barriers they face to walking, biking, and using transit to get around.

One way we’re doing this is through Motivational Interviewing, which is a goal-oriented and participant-centered style of coaching designed to help people change their behavior. Typically used by health practitioners, Motivational Interviewing has been successfully used to change behavior in smoking cessation, substance abuse, health coaching, and gambling programs.

Recognizing the value in this coaching method, Alta’s Programs team, including Hannah Mullin, Cathy Cibor, Cailin Henley, and former colleague Chris Saleeba, created a custom Motivational Interviewing training focusing on changing people’s transportation behaviors.

Go to the profile of Alta Planning + Design
Alta’s Hannah Day-Kapell provides a custom motivational interviewing training for Safe Routes to School professionals in Wisconsin.

In 2017, they began taking their training on tour — teaching organizations around the country how to use Motivational Interviewing techniques to motivate citizens to discover transportation solutions that work for them.

Go to the profile of Alta Planning + Design
Alta’s Hannah Day-Kapell provides a custom motivational interviewing training for Safe Routes to School professionals in Wisconsin.

“When working with communities, it’s not enough to hand over maps or other tools to help people learn about new ways to get around,” said Hannah Mullin. “Motivational Interviewing challenges outreach professionals to go a step further and walk through the behavior change process on an individual level.”

Motivational Interviewing is based on an interviewer, or “coach,” listening and asking open-ended questions rather than immediately providing solutions. Through this technique, individuals are discovering solutions themselves, which is a powerful tool in the process of behavior change.

Interested in learning how to implement these techniques to encourage transportation behavior change in your community? Building from the success of this year’s training, Alta’s Programs team has started customizing Motivational Interviewing training for both transportation coordinators and Safe Routes to School practitioners.

To have Alta to host a custom training for your organization, contact Cathy Cibor.

In the meantime, stay tuned for more updates about the team’s experiences in the field and what they have planned in the coming year.

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