Centre gives free training for health workers

Motivational Interviewing training for Catholic Relief Services in Cape Town in August.

Motivational Interviewing (MI) training can be critical in giving social workers, registered counsellors, nurses and doctors the edge in helping people with substance abuse and mental health problems.

The South Africa HIV Addiction Technology Transfer Centre (SA HIV ATTC) at UCT, which is based at the Valkenberg Educational Centre in Observatory offers this training for free to all health care workers who are working in the prevention and treatment of HIV, substance use and mental health.

The SA HIV ATTC shared their expertise on MI with non-profit organisations and health care workers at a social responsibility event hosted by the UCT Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at Valkenberg Hospital Educational Centre on Tuesday September 17.

Shaheema Allie, training and curriculum co-ordinator at SA HIV ATTC, says they have been doing MI training since last year May.

“The main reason for training in this type of counselling technique is to change health care workers’ mindsets in their approach to the treatment of HIV, substance use and mental health conditions,” she says.

Clinical psychologist, Fergus Ashburner, who is a senior trainer at SA HIV ATTC, says MI empowers treatment providers to stimulate motivation and personal responsibility for the patient.

“To listen and understand with empathy, to promote collaboration, and to proceed at the pace of the client considering their readiness to change,” he said.

Ms Allie says they provide MI as a mobile unit for any HIV organisation that reaches out to them, with the SA HIV ATTC team going out to them to provide the training.

“We have a two-day, in-person experiential training which includes some theory, role plays, videos and group activities,” she says.

Ms Allie says they have trained government-funded substance use treatment facilities as well as health care workers who are based at clinics.

This also includes non-profits like TB HIV Care, South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, NACOSA and Catholic Relief Services.

The SA HIV ATTC also offers an online accredited course with the Health Professions Council of South Africa

Mr Ashburner says there were challenges in the beginning when trying to get healthcare professionals to think differently when treating someone who is HIV positive with a substance use disorder and possibly a mental health condition.

“Most people believe that substance users just need to abstain from all substances, therefore they become prescriptive in how someone needs to change,” he said.

“With MI, it challenges their attitudes and ways of thinking about treating people who use substances,” he said.

If any organisation would like to find out more about the Motivational Interviewing training offered by SA HIV ATTC, they can email Shaheema.allie@uct.ac.za and Fergus.ashburner@uct.ac.za or visit https://attcnetwork.org/centers/south-africa-hiv-attc/home