Evidence indicates that workshop training, personalized feedback, and individual consultation can increase competence in motivational interviewing (MI) among highly motivated and skilled substance abuse counselors. Little is known, however, about the translational value of these training strategies for counselors with fewer counseling skills and less stated motivation to learn MI. This study presents evidence from a randomized, controlled trial of 129 behavioral health providers assigned to receive workshop training and enrichments to learn MI. A diverse group of Air Force behavioral health providers working in substance abuse treatment programs were trained in MI and subsequently observed in clinical sessions at 4, 8 and 12 months after training. Results indicate that training was effective in increasing the skill level of these clinicians; however, these gains had decreased by the 4-month follow-up point. Training enrichments in the form of personalized feedback and consultation phone calls did not have an expected, additive effect on clinician skill level. The results of this study lend support to the hypothesis that a greater investment of resources and incentives may be necessary to achieve gains in MI skills for counselors with relatively lower baseline skills than those commonly participating in research studies.
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