Ten Strategies for Evoking Change Talk

1. Ask Evocative Questions – Use Open-Ended Questions
– Why would you want to make this change? (Desire)
– How might you go about it, in order to succeed? (Ability)
– What are the three best reasons for you to do it? (Reasons)
– How important is it for you to make this change? (Need)
– So what do you think you’ll do? (Commitment)

2. Ask for Elaboration
When a change talk theme emerges, ask for more detail:

– In what ways?

– How do you see this happening?

– What have you changed in the past that you can relate to this issue?

3. Ask for Examples
When a change talk theme emerges, ask for specific examples.

– When was the last time that happened?

– Describe a specific example of when this happens.

– What else?

4. Looking Back
Ask about a time before the current concern emerged:

– How have things been better in the past?

– What past events can you recall when things were different?

5. Look Forward
Ask about how the future is viewed:

– What may happen if things continue as they are (status quo).

– If you were 100% successful in making the changes you want, what would be different?

– How would you like your life to be in the future?

6. Query Extremes

Ask about the best and worst case scenarios to elicit additional information:
– What are the worst things that might happen if you don’t make this change?

  • What are the best things that might happen if you do make this change?

7. Use Change Rulers
Ask open questions about where the client sees themselves on a scale from 1 – 10.

– On a scale where one is not at all important, and ten is extremely important, how

important (need) is it to you to change _______?

-Follow up: Explain why are you at a ___ and not (lower number)?

– What might happen that could move you from ____ to a _____[higher number]?

– How much you want (desire),

– How confident you are that you could (ability),

– How committed are you to ____ (commitment).

8. Explore Goals and Values
Ask what the person’s guiding values are.

– What do they want in life?

– What values are most important to you? (Using a values card sort can be helpful here).

– How does this behavior fit into your value system?

– What ways does ________ (the behavior) conflict with your value system

9. Come Alongside
Explicitly side with the negative (status quo) side of ambivalence.

– Perhaps ____________ is so important to you that you won’t give it up, no matter what

the cost.