I always think it's a bit of an odd term: Motivational Interviewing... It conjures up an image of job interviews, with the interviewer kind of attempting to get some sort of sense out of the job applicant! But, of course, motivational interviewing isn't that at all. Gill Todd and Professor Janet Treasure describe it really well on this website. And, motivational interviewing is what works so very well with Ben and me, when we walk and talk - or, in the case of Sunday, have a coffee and blueberry muffin in Starbucks, and then walk and talk through our good old friend, the local park.
"It's like when you take your iPod headphones out of your bag and they're all tangled up in a huge mess which is a nightmare to unravel," said Ben, munching away on the blueberry muffin and sipping his throthy pumpkin spice latte coffee. "There's so much going on inside my head: lectures, seminars, essays and getting them in on time, socialising, getting used to staying out late in an evening, making sure I eat enough, cooking, shopping, finding my way around the area, course reading, thinking about accommodation for next year - and now this voluntary work experience they expect you all to fit in as well. Aaarrrggghhh, the pressure!"
"So much going on... I really understand. It must be so hard trying to juggle all these things at once - your head must feel as if it's going to explode!" I responded. "I wonder if, amongst all of this, there is something that could go... maybe the voluntary thing? Just to give you a little more space to think?"
"But employers expect to see that you've done voluntary work at university."
"Employers certainly favour a CV that shows you've done worthwhile and relevant voluntary work," I said. "But, think about it... You spent 2 whole mornings a week last year teaching at your old school. Not teaching primary school kids, but sixth form history groups. Your teachers trusted your knowledge and ability enough to trust you with such a senior group of pupils. Employers will love that. So you have a head start over other students who've just left school and haven't done any volunteering. And, think about it, there's no way any university student would have the time to put in as many hours as you put in last year - and you were working in the charity shop as well! So I would say that - no - you don't need to do voluntary work this year. Already your CV reads like an impressive War and Peace...
"Worrying about accommodation next year is tough, I know, especially as everyone else seems to be talking about it. So how about talking about it with your new friends? Asking them what they are planning to do? Are they indeed doing anything? And have a chat with the accommodation mentor lady to talk about booking into uni residences again next year - she's on the main desk at 6pm every evening, so it's just a case of popping down there from your flat. It would take you all of 5 minutes. And that would tickanother item off your list of stuff."
Whether or not he will take me up on the above advice is another matter, but the key is the identifying with what he's feeling bit and repeating it back at him, rephrased, before gently offering advice. Or at least this is what works with us.