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Summarising is a type of reflective listening that links together the core components of several important client statements and reflects them back to the client. Summaries are useful in collating, linking, and reinforcing information discussed during the interviewing process, and offer a ‘what else’ opportunity for the client to add any information that may be missing. Summarising should be conducted often to promote meaningful relationships and contrasts between statements to enhance motivation to change [1918]. Some examples of summarising techniques include:

  • Linking summary: making associations between two parts of the discussion.
  • Collecting summary: gathering a few themes from what the client has said.
  • Ambivalence summary: gathering a few client statements about change and sustain talk, to acknowledge sustain talk but reinforce and highlight change talk.
  • Transitional summary: shifting focus from one area to another.
  • Recapitulation summary: gathering change talk from many conversations.

Table 66: Examples of open questions to elicit self-motivational statements

Stage of change Self-motivational statement Open question examples
Pre-contemplation Problem recognition (e.g., ‘I guess there might be more of a problem than I thought’)
  • What things make you think that this is a problem?
  • What difficulties have you had in relation to your AOD use?
  • What difficulties have you had in relation to our mood?
  • In what ways has this been a problem for you?
  • How has your use of AOD stopped you from doing what you want to do?
Contemplation Expression of concern (e.g., ‘I’m worried about this’)
  • What worries do you have about your AOD use?
  • What can you imagine happening to you?
  • Tell me more about preventing a relapse to using… Why is that so important to you… What is it like when you are ill?… And how about your family – what effect did it have on them? How important are these issues to you?
  • Can you tell me some reasons why drinking or using may be a health risk? Would you be interested in knowing more about the effects of drinking/using? How important are these issues to you?
  • What would your best friend/mum say were your best qualities? Tell me, how would you describe the things you like about yourself?... And how would you describe you the user?... How do these two things fit together?... How important are these issues to you?
Action Intention to change (e.g., ‘This isn’t how I want to be’)
  • You seem a bit stuck at the moment. What would have to change to fix this?
  • What would have to happen for it to become much more important for you to change?
  • If you were 100% successful and things worked out exactly as you would like, what would be different?
  • The fact that you are here indicates that at least a part of you thinks it is time to do something. What are the reasons you see for making a change? What would be the advantages of making a change?
  • What things make you think that you don’t need to worry about changing your AOD use?
  • And what about the other side… What makes you think that it’s time to do things a bit differently?
  • If you were to decide to change what might your options be?
Maintenance Optimism (e.g., ‘I think I can do this’)
  • What would make you more confident about making these changes?
  • Are there ways you know about that have worked for others? Is there anything you found helpful in any previous attempts to change?
  • What are some of the practical things you would need to do to achieve this goal? Do they sound achievable?
  • What encourages you that you can change if you want to?
  • What makes you think that if you did decide to make a change, you could do it?

Adapted from NSW Department of Health [776].

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