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Scott Graham

After receiving two undergraduate degrees from the University of South Florida (one in Psychology and one in Communication) I worked with at-risk kids then moved to New England to work as Counselor and Outward Bound Instructor.

(I had hiked the Appalachian Trail by myself a few years earlier so the opportunity to be in the wilderness and get paid was a dream-come-true).

Working with Outward Bound and other wilderness / adventure schools was great and it was here that I honed my abilities to help people tap into more then they thought they had.  It was here that I really learned to coach.

After a few years of working wilderness courses from Florida-to-Oregon I entered graduate school where I earned a degree in Management.  Along the way I achieved certification and faculty status with the William Glasser Institute.  Glasser's techniques grounded in Lead Management and Choice Theory help people identify what they really want and develop more effective ways to get it and is the primary model I use in coaching.  

I returned to Outward Bound for a short time as the Assistant Program Director of an Urban Center in Boston with the focus of developing therapeutic health services.  The pull of what had become my home was great however and I eventually returned to the country to work in Vermont.

I started working in a substance abuse treatment program through the Vermont Department of Corrections, called ISAP, and was eventually promoted to Program Director.  While working in the ISAP Program, I  was the architect of a consistent treatment design which I implemented statewide at nine sites.

Along the way I started 2 businesses:, LLC and Willoughby Forest, LLC.

Currently I am active as a trainer, motivational speaker, business / personal coach, clinical supervisor and personal trainer (I am a Certified Personal Trainer by the National Federation of Personal Trainers).  My focus / approach to life coaching is as a Reality Coach™.  I am a member of the International Association of Certified Coaches (IAC).   

I am committed to common sense conservation [I am a former West Fairlee Conservation Commissioner].  My partner and I steward 110 acres of Vermont forestland (Tree Farm #1464) developing agri-forest products like ginseng, in addition to timber and are both Cooperators through Vermont Coverts.  I am active in Toastmasters, currently serving as District 45 Area 20 Governor.  I volunteer with the West Fairlee Fire Department, and serve my community as elected Town Lister and Constable.  In my spare time I teach at the Community College of Vermont.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What do you do when your clients are stuck?

Are your clients stuck like these people in this video?

I am sure you have clients like this.  Positively Absolutely.

How do you respond?

What do you do?

Are you the repairman in the video or do you have another role not shown in the video?  Why or why not?

Please go to my blog and post your comments and thoughts!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bye, Bye Resistance

If you are like most, you didn't relish the shift from toward "resistance" when the book Motivational Interviewing first was published.  Next year, when the 3rd edition of Motivational Interviewing (MI3) is published, the concept of "resistance" will be gone completely. 

And I for one am glad.

Counselors who slap clients as in "denial" are pathetic and should surrender their license. 
        (what, you don't like being labeled?!). 

Fortunately, labeling clients as in denial has become in many places "politically incorrect" meaning is has been replace with "resistant" (code word:  "denial") when blaming clients for our lack of clinical ability.  What will these people do when this concept is gone in MI3?

MI3 has many changes -- it is looking like it will be as different from the second edition of Motivational Interviewing as the second edition was from the first.  But this shift completely away from "resistance" is, IMHO, the biggest (and best) change.  

"Resistance" has been replaced with sustain talk plus discord between the client and the counselor.

For those unfamiliar with motivational interviewing these days, we are focused on two client verbal responses:  

  • sustain talk and 
  • change talk.

What we know works is change talk.  The more the better.  And, at the risk of over simplifying motivational interviewing, our techniques in counseling are focused on getting more change talk and less sustain talk.

Two other factors come into play here:  the client is either connected with the counselor (there is harmony in the relationship) or disconnected with the counselor (there is discord in the relationship).  Make sense -- are you with me?

Now, let's look at what happens when these factors interact around a particular target behavior:

  Harmony Discord
Sustain Talk High potential to move client toward change talk Low potential to move client toward change talk
Change Talk High probability of behavior change High probability of behavior change

To illustrate, consider this framework using the example of stopping cigarette smoking as a target behavior:

  Harmony Discord
Sustain Talk Client engages with counselor to discuss his smoking. Client argues with counselor, wants to leave treatment, etc.
Change Talk Client comes up with a plan to stop smoking. Client stops smoking despite counselor.

The great thing about this framework is that all areas are impacted by the counselor. So blaming the client for clinical shortcomings should be a thing of the past next year!

What do you think?  Share your comments.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Trainings, New Website

New Trainings in MI

I am fresh back from the UK, enthused and energized from completing the process to become part of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT).

I am excited about the prospect of teaching Motivational Interviewing to the trainings and clinical supervision I offer.  Although I had taught MI trainings many times while working for Phoenix House and the Department of Corrections, I always felt a little awkward about the whole thing.  After all, during Ethics Seminars I facilitated I consistently criticized those who did a training here and there and went back to their institution to teach and (worse) do it to clients.  "Risky" I would lament.  "If you want to do REBT, then go to the Albert Ellis Institute and get properly and thoroughly trained.  If you want to do Reality Therapy, then go to the William Glasser Institute and get properly and thoroughly trained..."

All the while I was doing these workshops for the DOC or the (now defunct) Corrections Institute on motivational interviewing. 

So I stopped offering this in my portfolio of courses until I could be blessed, baptized or other wise officially recognized as knowledgeable in motivational interviewing.

Now, after a competitive application process and training (only 80 people are chosen each year, worldwide, to apply and train for MINT)  I am psyched to be a part of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (I am the only one in Vermont and one of two in New Hampshire).

Charged with new information about the third edition of Motivational Interviewing (you just wait until next week's game-changing post about "resistance") I have scheduled three trainings during the first 6 months of 2012.  Of course Ethics Seminars are offered in November and December of this year.

New Website

As part of this process, I have migrated over to a new website host and new domain, that better reflects what I do for clients.  I would love your feedback.

Monday, November 29, 2010

To Email or Not to Email?

Should a counselor give their email address to a client? This is a question brought up in clinical supervision last week. "Is it unethical to give my email address out?" posed the counselor. Before answering his question, I asked the counselor the 5 standard questions every clinical supervisor should ask (based on the ethical decision-making model I present at ethics trainings that I conduct):
  1. What does the NAADAC ethical code say about the issue?
  2. What do the codes from similar professions (psychology, clinical social work, pastoral) say about the issue?
  3. Are there state laws that address the issue?
  4. What is your agency policy regarding this issue?
  5. What have you discerned from ethics scholarship?
The counselor looked at me dazed and confused. He had not considered these questions at all - despite having actually attended ethics trainings I have conducted in the past. I looked at him and told him - pulling no punches - "To ask me for input without first having answered these questions is wrong. Wrong. Period. Find the answers to these questions and then I will tell you what I think." This "shortcutting" of correct ethical decision-making seems to me to be common amongst people in the counseling profession. Is it laziness I wonder? Why so many counselors just "poll their peers" instead of doing due diligence to explore the ethical dilemma they are faced with? Your opinion on an ethical issue - like my opinion -- is worthless (actually it might be worth more now that I am composing this blog entry). The question about sharing your email address with a client bothered me so I connected with trusted colleague, Marie Holtman of Recovery House, Inc. Marie, like myself, also has achieved the IC&RC Clinical Supervisor credential. She is also incredibly thorough in her approach and analysis of issues, so I knew we would explore the topic in depth. 

First we looked at the NAADAC ethical code. We found nothing explicitly addressing the sharing of email addresses but agreed that aspects of Principle 2: Client Welfare, Principle 3: Client Relationship and Principle 7: Dual Relationships applied to the issue. Second, we explored the ACA ethical code and determined that A5 and A6 applied (Personal Needs & Values, Dual Relationships). Again there was nothing explicit about sharing one's email address. Third we talked about Vermont State Law - briefly - because Vermont State Law parallels the 2000 NADAAC Ethical Code. Fourth, agency policy. Although we were not familiar with the agency policy of the coaching client who brought me the issue, we agreed that few agencies have a policy in place for connecting electronically or through social media. 

Does your agency have a social media / electronic communication policy? Finally we took a look at ethics scholarship - finding only a few sources here. 

We did uncover an excellent article by David Powell on the general topic from Counselor Magazine. Marie and I reached some clear conclusions based on the above research. But before I tell you what we decided and why, I want to hear from you and why. Please comment - should a counselor share their email address with a client? Why or Why not? To learn more about this ethical decision making model, attend my Basic Ethics training on December 3 2010. Registration 8:30 am, course 9:00 am - 4:00 pm. Location Upper Valley Site of the Community College of Vermont. To attend, register here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

If you're a counselor read this book!

"The Happiness Myth" takes us back to our history and the myths that are no longer. Can you believe that we used to think that “chores” were the main source to our unhappiness?, or sports were bad for women? How about eating coca plants instead of drinking Red Bull?

Times have definitely changed, and this book explores the myths and facts of our history and today. It provides an in-depth look into many different idea that we thought were good for us which todays' modern science proved them not-so. It shows us the differences between what we think happiness should be today and what people expected it to be in times past.

Jennifer Michael Hecht Keeps you stimulated and interested while reading this book, kind of like the coca plants did for the Columbians working in the fields. Heckts' conclusions are quite interesting and many times practical, making it easy to get the message to care for ourselves. An easy to read, quirky guide, will make you smile and see the difference between the days of yester year and today. Some may even change your thinking as well.

The Washington Post says “Heckts' curiosity ranges widely, and the breadth of her learning is impressive….Fresh and daring analysis.” This book will keep you informed and laughing from start to end. Through its’ amazing research into the cultural history, it will certainly rethink your assumptions about happiness. Counselors often think there's one specific solution for clients to overcome their difficulties. These theories are often myopic and driven by the expectations of culture.

Reading "The Happiness Myth" is a good step in professional development for counselors and will ultimately help you provide a better service for your clients. Other professional upcoming opportunities include: Introduction to Ethics, for more information on this event click here.