Motivation is the drive by which our actions and behaviors come about and can be subdivided in to two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. As a trainer you, most likely, will have experienced being fully immersed in some form of sport or training where you have felt primal urges for the love of movement – this is intrinsic motivation. “Being engaged in sports out of enjoyment and fun has been shown to be an important determinant of sports persistence and performance” (Vallerand & Rosseau, 2001).
When your client's intrinsic motivation increases, performance and persistence will improve simultaneously. The consequences of which will be a journey of adaptation towards their goals and results via behavior change. Within this article, you will learn ways by which to bring about clients' intrinsic motivations towards change.
- Understand the difference between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.
- Introduce the Self-Determination Theory and the four described levels of motivation.
- Understand motivational interviewing and how to apply the skill.
- Create awareness of the importance of 'change talk' in creating intrinsic motivation and therefore change for the client.
- Learn several tools by which 'change talk' can be created for each individual client.
Jessica Ennis; British sweetheart and former European and World Heptathlon champion as well as current Olympic champion said, “Training is full-on. Some days I really don’t want to get out of bed and hit that track again. Sunday and Monday morning sessions are always horrible.” This begs the following question: How does she motivate herself to get up for those horrible sessions, which have allowed her to adapt to become one of the greatest British Athletes of recent history?
Answer: Intrinsic Motivation
There are four levels of motivation described by the Self-Determination Theory of Motivation as follows:
A-motivation is characterized by a complete lack of any motivation to engage, a perceived lack of competence and a failure to value the activity. This type of motivation will be rarely found in current gym-users; these people won’t have ventured that far. This type of person may be found in your family or circle of friends and in general has no inclination to move regularly. They are more concerned with work or personal life and in no way desire to take part in any form of movement or exercise. The answer to any question pertaining to exercise will be “no.”
After crossing the Threshold of Motivation the client will be in a state of Other-determined Extrinsic Motivation, which is characterized by a lack of genuine motivation to engage, lack of enthusiasm and little to no value for the activity. External factors such as guilt, rewards and coercion are providing the motivation; think of when you were little and your parents would effectively bribe you to eat the last of the over-cooked veggies with treats. As an example, in terms of your clients/members this is the person who is being pushed to look a certain way for an event, for a family member, due to media influences and/or will reward him or herself with an expensive gift or even plastic surgery once they reach their goal.
The Threshold of Autonomy is the next line to cross before entering Self-Determined Extrinsic Motivation. Enjoyment is found out of the activity, an amount of pleasure from practice and clear opinions/beliefs of the benefits incurred from the activity. This is the client in your gym who loves classes because all of his/her friends are present, they enjoy training with you as their trainer because of the banter and the social aspect of it and they truly understand the health benefits involved. These people are motivated and are one step away from the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
After crossing the Threshold of Intrinsic Motivation we meet individuals motivated by enjoyment, challenge and mastery of the activity that they engage in; Intrinsic Motivation. These are the people that carry a notebook with them around in the gym so that they can view their performance, they do not miss sessions, they look happy while training and tend to get a little grumpy when they miss out on it. These people are persistent in their training and perform well when given educated and adequate guidance. This is Jessica Ennis desiring to be an Olympic Champion at the age of 15 and working every day towards that goal until it was materialized.
Enhancing intrinsic motivation becomes the key to a coach/trainers’ success at this point; clients will be at varying levels of motivation therefore, assisting them in obtaining intrinsic motivation will boost your client’s long-term results and adaptations towards their individual goals.
In 1983, Motivational Interviewing came about from the treatment of individuals with overuse of alcohol problems, lead by Professor William R Miller, Ph.D and Professor Stephen Rollnick, Ph.D. “Motivational Interviewing is a method that works on facilitating and engaging intrinsic motivation within the client in order to resolve ambivalence” (Shannon, Smith & Gregory, 2003) and works via client-centered and directive questioning eliciting ‘Change Talk.’ Change talk is imperative to intrinsic motivation; compared to the client being told what to (or not to) do, a circumstance by which they become defensive and less agreeable to change, change talk presents to the client the benefits to him or herself of the change and eliminates/reduces ambivalence.
To effectively practice motivational interviewing with your clients to facilitate 'change talk' the following core skills need to be implemented: Open-ended questioning, affirmations, reflections and summarizing. Completing all of these will bring about change talk; the client will present the argument for his or her own change.
1. Open-ended questions are questions that provide an opportunity to receive a lot of information and do not involve yes/no answers,. The following are examples of Open-Ended Questions, from the PTA Global tool, the PDQ, which you can use right now with your clients:
- Why is this goal important to you?
- If you don’t make these changes and stay the way you are or regress in your health and fitness, how would that affect your life? What consequences would occur?
- When you successfully reach your goal, in what ways will your life be different? And, what benefits would occur?
2. Affirmations are statements that are positive and are fed back to the client. They are believed to be true, present tense, positive, personal and specific. After asking the above questions a common answer may be, "This goal is important because I will to be able to play with the kids without getting out of breath and that means they will be happier, as will I.” In turn, as the trainer/coach, we can feed back in the form of an affirmation as follows: “I really like that, it’s incredibly powerful of you to want to do this for the happiness of your children."
3. Reflections occur when the client tells the trainer something and this is directly fed back to them, consequently showing the client that they are being listened to and empathized with. For example, when a client speaks in confidence and communicates that they find it difficult to motivate themselves to come to the gym, the coach/trainer can then reflect back to them (and acknowledge) that it is challenging to find the motivation to come to the gym. Now empathy, trust and rapport are created between the trainer and client.
4. To summarize at the end of the interview, you (as the trainer/coach) demonstrate that you have listened to the client and can clearly check whether you understand the motivation moving the client towards their goal.
With each individual you come into contact with, you will use patience and a variety of tools in order to maintain 'change talk' and intrinsic motivation. Apply the following:
- Decisional Balance Sheet – Write all of the positive and negative perceptions about the new behavior and develop the discrepancies. By having these perceptions laid out on paper, barriers are removed and the benefits of the change are highlighted.
- SMARTER goal setting – Specific, Measureable, Attractive, Realistic, Time-based, Evaluate and Reward.
- Goal Attainment Scales – This is a self-generated scale of possible outcomes and helps the client to individually understand the planning of the goal. It introduces emotion to the goal and grounds the client in the new behavior.
In terms of client questioning, a question that can be used is “On a scale of 1-10 how important is it for you to make those changes right now? Why is it NOT a 2 or a 3? What would make it one number higher?”
- Cognitive Restructuring – Allowing the client to change if they wish, by a process of structured positive thinking and action. Inviting the client to identify what needs to change begins this process. The following stages represent the client accepting responsibility and making the declaration to change: intervening, rehearsing the new desired action (affirmation), demonstrating the new action (ritual), and finally documenting and rewarding the victories.
In summary, intrinsic motivation is the motivation by which the client is driven by enjoyment, mastery and challenge. This is advantageous to the coach/trainer due to the persistent, performance driven nature of the client and consequent results leading to great business. To bring about intrinsic motivation, as of Jessica Ennis, 'change talk' plays a pivotal role as the client moves away from ambivalence, fear and pain towards the benefits of reaching their goal. Motivational interviewing begins this process and varies from person to person; by use of open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections and summarizing the coach will invite 'change talk' and invite the use of tools to firmly embed change. These tools, as detailed above, are Decisional Balance Sheets, SMARTER goal setting, Goal Attainment Scales and Cognitive Restructuring.
Vallerand, Rousseau (2001). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation in Sport. Retrieved from www.er.uqam.ca/nobal/r26710/LRCS/papers/143.pdf.
Shannon, S., Smith, V., Gregory J. (2003). A Pilot Study of Motivational Interviewing in Adolescents with Diabetes. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 88. p. 680–683.
PTA Global Certification Course. Retrieved from www.ptaglobal.com