Dodge Ball

Trainees work in teams to reply to client statements with MI-consistent responses such as reflections or open questions.

Trainees can learn to differentiate between reflections and questions and learn to respond nondefensively to resistance statements by using this team approach to “dodge” resistance. Dodge Ball differs from Batting Practice in that any member of a team may provide a stimulus or response.

Arrange participants into 2 teams, facing each other standing in a line on either side of the room. With large groups, several pairs of teams can be arranged. Assign one team to be the “stimulus” team who will throw out statements that might be made by clients. Ask the other “response” team to respond to each statement in turn. Provide coaching as needed to the team “dodging” the client statements.

This exercise works well in practicing responses to resistance statements. Explain that in MI, we can learn to roll with resistance by practicing “dodging” resistance statements and turning them into opportunities for exploration, through the use of responses such as reflection, open question, reframe, and emphasizing control. The resistance statement is the ball thrown by the stimulus team at the other. Any member of the stimulus team may throw a resistance ball. The members of the response team are to “dodge” the ball and toss it back to the other team. Ask the stimulus team to sequentially throw out “typical resistance statements” they hear in their professional setting. Encourage cheering. When the response team has had adequate time to practice, have the teams switch roles.

Because the groups are asked to form teams, the pressure on any one participant is lessened. This can be a helpful variation on Batting Practice for those trainees who seem shy about participation, because in general, more extroverted trainees will respond first. However, be sure to encourage or coach participation from all.

The stimulus team may be limited to single client responses (as in Batting Practice), or as a variation, may be permitted to reply to the other team’s response, following up on the earlier stimulus statement.

Thanks to: Karen Ingersoll


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