Over the course of the past year, Urban Pathways has worked closely with Columbia’s School of Social Work to design and deliver Motivational Interviewing (MI) curricula to our staff. The first pilot training took place on Monday, July 18th, 2022 with a three-hour virtual session led by Columbia University’s MI Consultants, Allen Zweben and Mary Piepmeier, as well as Urban Pathways’ own “MI Champions” Kimberly Joseph, Mark Collins, and Annie Hanford. The workshop introduced staff to conceptual material for a strong foundation of MI theory, as well as applications of the practice demonstrated by the instructor and through videos. Staff also engaged in role-play exercises and small group activities to allow for hands-on experience.

What is Motivational Interviewing?

MI is an evidence-based practice used by practitioners (such as therapists, counselors, or case managers) to help clients who are ambivalent to change. The MI approach supports clients by reflecting, affirming, or clarifying their statements and beliefs, a framework that allows the client to be the expert of their own life. The practitioner empowers the client to make their own decisions, solve problems, and change their lives while building a strong therapeutic relationship through empathy and compassion. (Source: SocialWork.Columbia.Edu)

Reflections from Urban Pathways’ MI Champions

Nine Urban Pathways staff members make up this year’s “MI Champions,” the first group to complete the pilot program on MI with Columbia University (wrapping up in November of 2022). They will then become our internal MI experts who will take over training all Urban Pathways staff on the practice. Three MI Champions co-facilitated the pilot training on July 18th alongside Mr. Zweben and Ms. Piepmeier from Columbia: Kimberly Joseph, Mark Collins, and Annie Hanford.

“Motivational Interviewing is fundamental to the work we do with our residents, whether surrounding health behaviors, financial habits or activities of daily living, MI techniques ensures our efforts are client-centered, strengths-focused and empowering. It has been a tremendous learning experience to participate in this training with Columbia University and now to help facilitate trainings with my colleagues.”

– Annie Hanford, Project Coordinator, Total Wellness at Urban Pathways


“Motivational Interviewing training with Columbia has made my experience working with Urban Pathways clients and staff effective. The team of Columbia simplified the learning experience at any level. Being an MI Champion has enlightened other areas in my life, by utilizing the components of Motivational Interviewing. Listen, Reflect, Be Available and Be Present!”

– Kim Joseph, Director of Social Services at Urban Pathways

For more information on Motivational Interviewing and the training program at Columbia University, click the button below.

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