Ruth Knee Lecture Archive

2014 Ruth Knee Lecture on Spirituality and Social Work

Motivational Interviewing and Quantum Change: Reflections on Human Potential

William R. Miller, PhD
Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, The University of New Mexico

Thursday, July 17, 2014

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FOR THE FIRST TIME in a single lecture, William Miller described and weaved together two major themes from his research career that illuminate the human potential for personal transformation. The first was motivational interviewing (MI), a collaborative counseling style he developed in the 1980s to help clients with alcohol problems overcome their ambivalence about behavior change. He then discussed quantum change—his study of transformations of the “Ebenezer Scrooge” variety that are sparked by epiphanies or sudden insights. Where does quantum change come from? Why do some of us experience it and what kind of people do we become as a result? Miller raised these questions and more as he reflected on our ability to achieve lasting change—and ensure that tomorrow need not be like yesterday.

Learning Objectives

Participants were able to:

  1. Identify at least three components of the underlying spirit with which motivational interviewing is practiced
  2. Explain the evoking process that is a defining aspect of motivational interviewing
  3. Describe key elements of a mystical experience
  4. List at least three common changes associated with “quantum change” experiences
  5. Describe at least four common insights that have become apparent to quantum changes.

Ruth Irelan Knee, A.M. '45, was a founding member of the National Association of Social Workers and one of the first psychiatric social workers. Her work across three decades helped define the role of social workers in the public sector. The Ruth Knee Support Fund for Spirituality in Social Work sponsors this lecture at SSA. Read more about Ruth Knee.