Tips & Strategies


Visit the "Motivational Communication Skills" category in our Video Library for more examples of the following skills.

Open Ended Questions

Questions that do not invite yes/no or other short answers.

  • Examples: "Tell me about your smoking since our last visit; How did your child’s doctor’s visit go?”


Statements supporting the person and their change behaviors

  • Examples: ”you are dedicated to your children, you are working hard to find a job, you are trying your hardest”


Simple statements that convey "I heard what you just said," "I understand what you are saying," or "I'm trying to understand"

  • Simple: Demonstrate listening by repeating or slightly rephrasing caregiver statements
    • Example:
      • Caregiver: “I just don’t know what more I can do”
      • Home visitor: “You are not sure what else you can try”
  • Complex: 
    • Emotion-focused: Acknowledging the person’s emotions
      • Example:
        • Caregiver: “I just don’t know what more I can do, I am so tired of it”
        • Home visitor: “You feel frustrated with how things are going”
    • Double-sided: Capturing both sides of a speaker’s ambivalence
      • Example:
        • Caregiver: “Even if I want to, I just don’t know what more I can do”
        • Home visitor: “You have tried a lot already that has not worked, but you want to feel better"
    • Amplified: Reflecting emphasizing the more exaggerated aspect of statement
      • Example:
        • Caregiver: "I cannot talk to my Mom about not smoking in her own house"
        • Home visitor: "Sounds like it would be impossible to talk about smoking with your mother"​

Emotion Focused Reflection 

 Double-sided Reflection 

 Complex Reflection


Linking together and reinforcing caregiver statements

  • Collecting: Short summaries that gather recently discussed themes
    • Example:
      • Home visitor: “We have been talking about how you have been feeling and you are not sure how to start finding a job, but you have some reasons for looking, like being able to bring more money home to take care of your children”
  • Transitional: Announcing a shift from one focus to another
  • Example:
    • Home visitor: “We have talked about your plans to attend the upcoming socialization; Let’s talk a bit about your efforts toward attending those parenting classes we discussed.”

Measuring Readiness

Please see our Readiness Ruler tool