Motivational Interviewing in Spanish | Free Video Lesson

Motivational Interviewing in Spanish

Motivational Interviewing in Spanish

In this free Medical Spanish lesson you will learn how to say For How Long and How Long Ago in Spanish: Por cuánto tiempo y desde hace cuánto tiempo.

The first thing to learn is the different terms used in English and Spanish: Motivational Interview is Intervención Motivacional. In some Spanish speaking regions is also acceptable to say Entrevista Motivacional.

These intervenciones motivacionales help people to control and talk through their own behaviors in order to be able to improve their own health and lifestyle.

In this free Medical Spanish lesson you will learn how to:

  1. Ask open-ended questions in Spanish
  2. Ask permission to discuss delicate topics in Spanish
  3. Talk about motivations in Spanish
  4. Engage in reflective listening in Spanish
  5. Give affirmations in Spanish
  6. Discuss pros and cons of choices in Spanish
  7. Normalize in Spanish
  8. Give advice in Spanish
  9. Discuss readiness and confidence for change in Spanish
  10. Summarize in Spanish
  11. Offer support in Spanish
  12. Deal with discrepancies in Spanish

Here is the Motivational Interviewing in Spanish lesson that I taught to the Facebook group:

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Download the Motivational Interviewing in Spanish Notes TODAY

Comportamientos – Behaviors

When you are talking about any vice, the verb to express the idea of stop doing that is “dejar de”.

“Dejar de…”Stop

  • Fumar (usar tabaco) – Smoking
  • Tomar licor (cerveza) – Drinking alcohol (beer)
  • Usar drogas – Using drugs

“Tiene que”You have to

If your patient doesn’t need to stop doing something but need to start doing something, you can express the idea using “tiene que” + unconjugated verb, or even “tiene que empezar a” + unconjugated verb

  • Bajar de peso – Lose weight
  • Cambiar la dieta – Change your diet
  • Comer más saludable – Eat healthier
  • Hacer ejercicio (actividad física) regularmente – Exercise regularly
  • Controlar (condición) – Manage (condition)

Preguntas abiertas – Open-ended Questions

Although there are some useful acronyms for using during motivational interviews, there are also some open questions that you can use to facilitate the conversation with your patient and obtain the information you need from them.

¿Qué le trae aquí (a la clínica) hoy?What brings you here (to the clinic) today?
¿Qué le hace pensar que es hora de cambiar?What makes you think that it’s time to change?
¿Qué pasa cuando usted (verbo de comportamiento que quiere cambiar)?What happens when you (behavior verb they want to change)?
Cuénteme más sobre la primera vez que empezó…Tell me more about the first time you started …
¿Qué es lo que a usted le gusta sobre (situación, acción, etc)?What is it that you like about (situation, action, etc.)?
¿Y cómo era eso para usted?And how was that for you?
¿Qué será diferente para usted esta vez cuando intente (dejar de fumar, mejorar su actividad física, dieta, etc?What will be different for you this time when you try (quit smoking, improve your physical activity, diet, etc?)

Pedir permiso – Asking Permission

If you want to talk about certain topics which could bother your patient if you approach them directly, then you could try using these questions to request their permission first.

¿Le molesta si hablamos sobre…? Does it bother you if we talk about …?
¿Podemos hablar un poquito sobre…?Can we talk a bit about …?
¿Estaría cómodo(a) conversar sobre….?Would you be comfortable talking about…?
Veo aquí que usted padece de (condición), ¿Podemos conversar sobre cómo (actividad / estilo de vida) afecta (condición)?I see here that you suffer from (condition), can we talk about how (activity / lifestyle) affects (condition)?

Note: In Spanish, it’s better to use words such as “hablar” or “conversar” if you want to discuss something. This is because “discutir” in Spanish means “to argue” in several contexts.

Motivaciones para cambiar ≈ “Change Talk”

This set of questions are helpful to get more context about your patient’s intention and conviction to change.

  • ¿Qué le hace pensar que necesita cambiar? – What makes you think you need to change?
  • ¿Qué (le) pasará si no cambia? – What would happen if you don’t change?
  • ¿Qué le gustaría que fuera diferente sobre su situación actual? – What would you like to be different about your current situation?
  • ¿Cuáles serían los beneficios de cambiar …? – What will the benefits of changing?
  • ¿Cómo le puedo ayudar a superar las dificultades que experimenta? – How can I help you overcome the difficulties you are facing?
  • ¿Qué tendría que hacer para cambiar? – What would you have to do to change?
  • ¿Cómo será diferente su vida (en 6 meses) si cambia hoy? – How would your life be different if you change today?
  • ¿Por qué piensa que otros están preocupados sobre su (actividad, condición, estilo de vida)? – Why do you think that other people are concerned about your (activity, condition, lifestyle)?

Note: In Spanish, the subjunctive mood is used to discuss things that are uncertain or subjective. That’s the reason why “to be” is not translated as “es” but “fuera” in this case.

Escuchar y Reflexionar – Listening and Reflecting

These expressions are useful for showing your patient you are listening to them and thinking about what they are saying.

  • Suena que…. – Sounds like…
  • Parece que… – It seems like…
  • Le oigo decir que… – I hear you saying that…
  • Tengo la impresión que… – I get the impression that
… quiere cambiar _____… you want to change ____
… le preocupa _____… you are concerned about _____
_____ no es un problema por el momento… ____ is not a problem for the moment
… no está seguro(a) que puede cambiar…. you are not certain you can change
  • ¿Qué requerirá realizar el cambio esta vez? – What would it take to make the change this time?

Note: be careful with the false friend “realizar” and “realize”. “Realizar” means to make something real or to make it happen, while “realize” means “darse cuenta” in Spanish.

Afirmaciones – Affirmations

For affirming statements, you can use this vocabulary.

  • Su compromiso para cambiar _____ es obvio – Your commitment to changing ____ is obvious
  • La manera en que usted enfrentó esa situación demuestra … – The way you faced that situation shows…
  • A pesar de lo que pasó, usted demostró _____ – In spite of what happened, you demonstrated / showed ____

Unas características positivas – Some Positive Characteristics

Some characteristics that contribute to change are:

Perseverancia Perseverance

Download the Motivational Interviewing in Spanish Notes TODAY

Pros y Contras – Pros & Cons

Now it’s time to evaluate the pros and cons of making any kind of decision.

Todo en la vida tiene aspectos positivos y aspectos negativos – Everything in life has positive and negative aspects
¿Cuáles son las cosas buenas (positivas) sobre _____? – What are the good (positive) things about _?
Y por otro lado, ¿cuáles son las cosas no tan buenas (negativas) sobre _____? – And on the other hand, what are the not-so-good (negative) things about ____?

Es Común / Normal – It’s Common / Normal

These phrases are intended to be used as a way to normalize attitudes and general concernes you patient may have.

  • A mucha gente le preocupa cambiar _____ – Many people are concerned about changing _____
  • Muchas personas se sienten así igual como usted – Many people feel just like you
  • Muchos quieren cambiar _____, pero les cuesta mucho – A lot of people want to change _____, but it’s difficult.
  • Casi todos dicen que hay aspectos buenos y no tan buenos de _____ – Pretty much everyone says there are good and not-so-good aspects of _____

Note: “Cuesta mucho” is a great way to say that something is difficult. It means something costs a lot, not necessarily money but effort.

Consejos – Advice

In this stage, you can start providing your patient with your recommendations and advice.

  • ¿Le molesta si pasamos unos minutos hablando sobre _____? – Does it bother you if we spend a few minutes talking about ______?
  • ¿Le interesa saber más sobre _____? – Would it interest you to know more about _____?
  • ¿Qué sabe sobre cómo ______ afecta su (condición)? – What do you know about how ______ affects your (condition)?

Unas frases para aconsejar – A Few Phrases to Help Give Some Advice

Recomiendo…I recommend…
Normalmente es más efectivo…Normally it’s more effective …
Las investigaciones demuestran que…The studies show that …
Muchas personas que han tenido éxito con (situación) dicen que…A lot of people who’ve had success with (situation) say that…

Disposición para cambiar – Willingness to Change

  • En una escala de 1 (uno) a 10 (diez) – On a scale of 1 (one) to 10 (ten)
    • uno significa que no está listo(a) para cambiar y diez significa que está muy listo(a) para cambiar – one means that you are not ready to change and ten means that you are very ready to change
    • ¿Dónde calcula que está usted en este momento? – How would you rate where you are right?
  • ¿Y dónde estaba usted hace # meses? – And where were you # months ago?
  • ¿Cómo se siente sobre mover de un # a un #? – How do you feel about moving from a # to a #?
  • ¿Qué requerirá para mover aun más arriba en la escala? – What will it take to move even farther on the scale?
  • Me parece que usted ha progresado en sus deseos para cambiar _____ – It seems like you’ve progressed in your willigness to change _____
  • ¿Qué pasó para cambiarle de un #(alto) a un #(bajo)? – What happened to take you from a # (high) to a # (low)?
  • ¿Qué tendrá que pasar para regresar a un #? – What will have to happen to get you back to a #?

Confianza para cambiar – Confidence to change

  • En una escala de 1 (uno) a 10 (diez) – On a scale of 1 (one) to 10 (ten)
    • uno significa que no tiene confianza para cambiar y diez significa que tiene mucha confianza para cambiar – one means that you have no confidence to change and ten means that you have a lot of confidence to change
    • ¿Dónde calcula que está usted en este momento? – How would you rate where you are right?
  • ¿Qué piensa aumentará la confianza que tiene en sí mismo(a) para cambiar _____? – What do you think will increase your confidence in being able to change ____?
  • ¿Qué requerirá para mejorar su confianza en cambiar ____? – What will it require to improve your confidence in changing ____?
  • ¿Qué puede hacer usted para mejorar su propia confianza en cambiar ____? – What can you do to improve your own confidence in changing __?

Resumir – Summarizing

Now, if you want to sum up your conversation with your patient, these phrases could be useful for you.

Parece que le preocupa _____ porque… – It seems you are concerned about _____ because…
¿Ahora qué? – Now what?

Por un lado usted siente que… – On the one hand you feel that …
Pero por otro lado reconoce que probablemente tendrá que… – But on the other hand you recognize you’ll probably have to …
No es una decisión fácil – That’s not an easy decision

En los últimos meses, usted me ha comentado que quiere ______ – In the last few months, you’ve commented to me that you would like to _____
Y ahora su (familia) está preocupado(a) sobre _____ – And now your (family) is worried about _____
Ahora entiendo porque quiere cambiar ______ – Now I see why you want to change ______
Me parece que recientemente tiene más ganas para cambiar ____ – It seems to me that you are little more motivated now to change ______

Note: “Tener ganas” means to have interest, to have desire or to have will to do something.

Apoyar cuando hay éxitos – Supporting When Someone’s Have Some Succes

Parece que se está esforzando mucho para cambiar ____ / dejar de ____ -Looks like you are working very hard to change _____ / stop ______
Es diferente que antes – That’s different from before
¿Cómo ha podido lograr mantener estos esfuerzos? – How have you been able to maintain this effort?
Aunque todavía no ha dejado de ____ totalmente, lo ha reducido mucho – Even though you haven’t stopped _____ yet, you’ve reduced quite a bit
¿Cómo se siente sobre sus éxitos hasta ahora?
– How do you feel about your successes to now?
¿Cómo se siente sobre estos cambios que ha podido lograr? – How do you feel about these changes that you’ve been able to achieve?

Apoyar cuando no hay éxitos – Supporting When There Are No Success

This vocabulary can be helpful for talking to your patient when they haven’t been able to achieve their goals yet.

Usted ha intentado cambiar _____ / dejar de _____ por #meses – You have tried to change _ / stop _ for #months

  • Pero sigue igual con su uso de _____ – But everything is the same with your use of _____
  • ¿Tal vez no es el mejor momento para cambiar ____? – Maybe now is not the best time to change _____?

Parece que tiene mucho que hacer en este momento…– It seems like you have a lot to do right now

  • Y otras prioridades están compitiendo con sus deseos para cambiar ____ – And other priorities are competing with your desire to change _____
  • ¿Cuándo piensa que podrá enfocar en _____? – When do you think you’ll be able to focus on _____?

Discrepancias – diferencias entre lo dicho y lo hecho
Discrepancies – Differences Between What is Being Said And What is Being Done

You may also find some situations where you find that there is a discrepancy between what someone says and what they do so there is not a perfect match up. For approaching these situations, you can use this vocabulary.

Por un lado usted dice que (las relaciones con familiares están con problemas) – On the one hand you say that (you are having trouble with your family relationships)

pero por otro lado, usted comenta que el licor no es un problema. but on the other hand, you say that drinking is not a problem for you
¿Qué será lo que está causando los problemas familiares?What could it be that is causing the family problems?

Ayúdeme a entender esto… – Help me understand this…

• Por un lado usted dice que quiere poder conocer a sus nietos en
el futuro
On the one hand, you say you would like to meet your grandchildren someday
• Pero por otro lado usted no controla el azúcar ni la presión como necesita.But on the other hand you are not controlling your blood sugar or your blood pressure like you need to.
• ¿Cómo le ayuda no controlar el azúcar ni la presión en llegar a conocer a sus nietos?How does not controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure help you in being able to meet your grandchildren someday?

Su tarea 🙂

  • Review the notes & highlight the phrases that sound like you 🙂
  • Identify the conditions & vocabulary you commonly discuss with patients
  • Remember to keep it simple
  • Give it a try with your patients!

I packaged all of this into easily downloadable .pdf notes–Get your copy for free today!

Download the Motivational Interviewing in Spanish Notes TODAY

Free Medical Spanish Terminology Test

If you want to do a free Medical Spanish terminology test head over to certified Spanish, we are currently building a certification platform where you can practice this test for free. You just have to create a free user account here and start practicing your Español Médico 🙂

Keep up the good work speaking responsible Spanish to your patients! Check out our other books, classes & products to help you learn medical Spanish!

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