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    Introduction to key theories and techniques of social services counselling with particular application to mid-career social workers and other social service professionals.

    The goal of this paper is to teach students the central theoretical and empirical tenets of motivational interviewing (MI), as well as the clinical skills necessary to deliver the intervention to a wide range of clients in diverse settings. Students will learn and practise both the spirit and techniques of motivational interviewing. The MI skills are applicable in any setting, including but not limited to social work, healthcare, public health, criminal justice, education and general mental health. The paper will explore the four processes of MI, comprising: engagement, focusing, evoking and planning. Theories of behaviour change will be briefly explored as well as the impact of brief intervention models.

    About this paper

    Paper title Advanced Social Service Counselling
    Subject Social Work
    EFTS 0.25
    Points 30 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (Distance learning)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $2,551.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    Limited to
    PGDipSW, MSW
    Admission subject to approval from Head of the Social and Community Work Programme.

    Teaching staff

     To be confirmed when offered again.

    Paper Structure


    • Foundations of MI
    • Four processes
    • OARS-opening strategies
    • Focusing
    • Exploring ambivalence
    • Change talk, sustain talk: recognising and responding
    • Dancing with discord
    • Providing information, education, and advice MI style
    • Strengthening commitment and planning for change
    Teaching Arrangements

    The paper will be taught as an on-campus intensive course in Dunedin - with full-day seminars Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for two consecutive weeks - and will include some online activities and assessments.


    Required: Rosengren, D. B. (2017). Building Motivational Interviewing Skills: a practitioner workbook, 2nd Edition. Guilford Press: New York, NY.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised

    Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

    Learning Outcomes

    Knowledge-Based Outcomes

    • To describe the principles of motivational interviewing and the fundamental concept of the spirit of motivational interviewing
    • To explain and critically engage with the theoretical and empirical functions of motivational interviewing

    Skills-Based Outcomes

    • To demonstrate an ability to practise motivational interviewing skills and spirit within a social work setting
    • To identify and implement aspects of motivational interviewing and their applicability to diverse client populations and behaviours


    Not offered in 2024

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught through Distance Learning
    Learning management system
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