Using distance education to promote the transfer of motivational interviewing skills among behavioral health professionals

Michael Shafer, Robert Rhode, Jenny Chong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This study evaluated the effectiveness of distance education for training behavioral health professionals. Five live video workshops that covered key elements of Motivational Interviewing (MI) were delivered. The programs occurred a month apart, each 3 hours long. The programs used compressed video, transmitting the video signal through telephone lines. The audience was staff at substance abuse treatment organizations throughout the state of Arizona. Participants completed assessments regarding their training experiences, knowledge and self-efficacy in MI, and their satisfaction with the training, prior to, during, and subsequent to the workshops. Participation in the five workshops varied; the first workshop had the largest attendance of 351, the fourth the lowest of 92; 145 participants attended all five workshops. Participants expressed moderate levels of satisfaction with most aspects of the training, although some expressed frustration with interrupted audio or video signals during the programs. The handouts and videotaped examples of MI were identified as the more helpful aspects of the trainings. Participants reported statistically significant improvements in their self-perceived knowledge and skills. They demonstrated a statistically significant but clinically insignificant increase in knowledge. A small group of participants provided audiotapes of actual counseling sessions. These participants demonstrated minimal improvement in skills across the study that were not statistically significant. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for future research in the use of distance education as a technology transfer tool in the addiction treatment profession.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Counselor training
  • Distance education
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Technology transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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