Journal of NACAA

Preparing Extension Educators to Use Motivational Interviewing as a Tool to Address Farm Stress

ISSN 2158-9429

Volume 15, Issue 1 - June 2022

Editor: Linda Chalker-Scott


Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a way of working collaboratively with people to support their motivation for and commitment to change. MI is one communication tool of many techniques that can be applied in supporting farmers and families dealing with farm stress.  Extension educators are often sought out to provide information and advice, though they may have little to no experience or training. An MI-based professional development program was created to encourage educators to spend more time listening and engaging in communication techniques. The four-part webinar series consisted of theoretical introductions of MI, exercises of different MI skills, group discussion, and case examples. Initial results suggested participants gained a significant amount of knowledge regarding MI and reported feeling more comfortable using MI skills in their work. Results from this program demonstrate educators perceive MI to be valuable to their work. With improved communication skills, Extension educators can meet the needs of the farmers and farm families they work with, and inspire positive behavior changes when engaging in meaningful conversations on critical and time-sensitive topics related to farm stress.

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