Praise and Affirmation: A deep dive. What’s the difference, and does it matter? - Shared screen with gallery view
Hello to all again from Montreal from Marilyn Rabin
Reddy Sivaprasad Methuku
Good evening from India! Reddy Sivaprasad, an audiologist by profession. Happy to see hear and see the doyens of MI
Good afternoon from the middle of Sweden
Good (late) evening from Sydney Australia.
Hi from South Wales, also originally from Cape Town!
Hi from Avril in Scotland ..also originally from Cape Town
Good early, early morning from Seattle, US.
Good early morning from Alberta Canada
Prynhawn da from South Wales
From Susan Wingfield-Ritter Good morning from San Diego, CA,US
Good morning from the "other" Norfolk (Virginia, USA)!
Good afternoon from Yorkshire. Yes it is sunny!
Hello from Ann Arbor, Michigan USA (Christina Gerazounis and Marsha Benz). Thank you for hosting!
Wei Tao Ong
I'm just thinking... Affirming is different from praise, affirming is to recognise what is already in the client - that motivation to grow, while praise maybe something that is external from the client, from the therapist frame of reference.
love the idea of an affirmation as a gift….and that a gift is not a gift until it is received
Going to steal that metaphor: looking up to client instead of looking down!
love the idea that you empower someone when you offer them affirmation as well that you affirm their stance as an expert on their own experience and themsleves
People feel when your affirmation, you looking up to them/your admiration, is genuine/sincere and are moved by that, helping them feel like they have the power to change.
I've found previously that affirmation is really helpful around the 'hot potato' subject of weight loss/lifestyle change. Outcomes often end up with some/all weight being regained so if you haven't praised the outcome, you are still an ally. You could affirm their effort, their commitment, how they value a change in their lifestyle, but it's not attached to the outcome. if there are struggles, the door is still open, as you haven't been on the 'weight loss is better than how you were before' camp....
Wei Tao Ong
Completely agree with you Allan. Reinforcement views the human being as manipulatable, a very mechanistic way of seeing a person.
My students and I have fallen victim to using "awesome" "Yeah" "cool" as ways to let the client know we're listening as client is talking, and realized it really comes out as praise.
I think the MI spirit behind the praise is also important. If you really feel what they did was "fantastic" then why not just say it? Especially if it is spontaneous and genuine. I think we often use these praise words with no meaning/feeling behind them.
I like to think of affirmation as a “Reflection” of some (even if not obvious) positive trait, or internal capacity that, if “owned” by the client, helps to support self-efficacy. Thus, affirmation can not be done in a single sentence. Instead, I follow an acronym “READ” (R=Reflect the positive that you have recognized, E=Explain why it is good/helpful that the client has the trait, A = Admire or show that you are impressed by the clients possession of the trait, and finally D = Discuss with the client, their perspective on what you have just reflected)
As a dietitian for people with severe mental illness, I've used affirmations as two - pronged: I'm intrigued by the way you managed to include whole grains and I want to know more about how you went about this? It seemed that people appreciated telling their story from a position of pride.
If we're going to have an impact, haven't we got to be willing to accept the "weight" the other person puts on our authentically felt and conveyed acknowledgement / affirmation?
But children are even better at sniffing out sincerity than adults. We also we need to be honest.
is it less about praise versus affirmation, rather the genuine authenticity, congruence, sincere quality of how it is said, the intention behind it and how it is heard by the other person?
Paul Burke-LOVE the READ-must use this immediately!
There is no such thing as a “fake affirmation”. That term is an oxymoron! If it’s fake, it ain’t affirmation, (If it’s fake, it’s manipulative. The best way to protect against the possibility of manipulating (praising) is to ensure that the traits/behaviours/successes that you are noticing is EVIDENCE BASED - and that you be sure to provide (reflect) the evidence that you are noticing in what the client has said or done.
Interesting - isn't that feedback more than praise, when pointing out something that has been done well?
Part of affirmations, when they are genuine, is helping building trust in the relationship, helping to shift the power balance. The helper, us, always has the upper hand unless we shift this power. Helping the client to feel safe enough, through trust, to risk changing their behavior.
Christopher de Beer
I have definitely experienced that - it is very painful for some people to take that vulnerable stance that they might be good at something.
Praise is expressing an opinion, which someone with low self esteem will tend to disagree with. But evidence-based affirmation is harder to argue with.
The more specific you are about why you have admiration for the person the easier it is for the other person to see what we se.
Nice Frederik love it!
Wei Tao Ong
In a sense, the affirmation needs to be not too far away from the client's experience and understanding of themselves... Empathetic affirmation.
Absolutely Allen. Worth unpicking.
Who decides if something counts as "evidence"? Or how to interpret what we present at "evidence"? We surely can't INSIST that something is evidence!
This is so good..I have learned so much but have to go now...will pck up on you tube tomorrow
Wei Tao Ong
Thank you everyone. I've got to go too. It's late at night here. Hope to keep in touch.
Bye Wei Tao
i have to leave to pick the kids up from school. I have really enjoyed this; will pick up the rest online. thanks for making this space to share
Who has raised their hand? I can’t find you
I think people are not comfortable feeling vulnerable and honest which MI requires.
If you want me to!
If MI is something which should come naturally... and which sure in some walks of life... what holds people back from finding it the natural solution in so many settings / roles? Can we find suggestive patterns in the way professional identity is conceived?
Greg Sempter: An example - if one has recognized something “courageous” about their client, then the evidence is simply those things (or client comments) that have caused you to recognize the courage. So, in a way, the “evidence” is whatever it is that the client has provided that leads you to hang your affirmation on. (Does that make sense?)
Nice, Paul :)
I have raised my hand - Kate Speck
Greg Sempter - without the evidence, I find that clients will sometimes want to “argue”/deny your affirmation. If a helper simply says “Wow, you are really courageous” (no evidence provided) the client can deny the truth of that statement, because it can come across as a “label” or an “assessment” by the helper. If, on the other hand, the helper identifies that the client has courage and then provides the evidence that the client has provided, they can
Kate do you want to join us?
Greg Sempter - they can’t argue against it - because they are the one who provided the evidence. As the helper, you are simply reflecting it.
I appreciate to
Sorry Greg! I misread your last name!
Thanks Barbara -so great to hear your comments! And I hope to see you in MINT in a near future. Welcome in the group.
Paul - I think the challenge comes where people doesn't see something as evidence in the way that we see it as evidence. If we insist that something is evidence of "bravery" and our child turns around and says "no it's not"... we have a bit of an issue!
Re challenges to recognising MI across everyday life. I work in healthcare where concepts of vulnerability and flattening hierarchy are still largely perceived as weak and counter-professional. This makes it very hard to work in MI “naturally” it also makes affirmation difficult
This is worth a watch regarding vulnerability by Brene Brown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o&t=308s
We have to be stable enough in our own selves that we can handle what clients say but also be centered enough that we don't carry our clients burdens.
Affirmations, in the context of READ, could be coded as reflection” and also “Giving Information” (and contributes to MIA)
But sometimes we might need to proposed a new ideas for someone.
Sorry, new idea.
A short 10 minute read on affirmations I wrote that sums-up much of the concepts discussed so far: https://medium.com/the-ascent/a-short-guide-on-affirmations-in-life-and-leadership-e1fbae6bd153
I think when you have a good therapeutic alliance with a client you can explore together why you and they might see things so differently. - from over here (what I am seeing) it looks like this sounds like it feels very different to you. I wonder what that's about?
Christopher de Beer
I like that idea - it becomes a collaborative process of clarifying what the strength might be
sorry computer crashed...what does READ stand for?
Thanks Russell - this should be framed in a museum? :)
Will the comments also be available with the YouTube recording?
I think so Denise, or in a recoding we will send you a link for, I hope.
READ” (R=Reflect the positive that you have recognized, E=Explain why it is good/helpful that the client has the trait, A = Admire or show that you are impressed by the clients possession of the trait, and finally D = Discuss with the client, their perspective on what you have just reflected)
I would like to make a comment regarding affirmation and how it relates to information giving in a counseling session.
How do I know if the person's utterance is evidence of an affirmation?
We can help provide it!
Hope that is!
I asked this in the Q&A section but wasn't sure if it sent. Can you clarify how you would handle a situation when someone seeks out "affirmations"? They can sometimes lead a person to a feeling of "uniqueness"; which can then lead to a dependency/desire on needing to hear "what makes [me] special".
Agree, affirmations offer hope
thank you Hillevi!
We can be scaffolding while they are working on change?
james "figgy" Hardwick
This is amazing… My first time here.. Is there a way to stream the other sessions that I have missed?
Showing that we are genuinely resolute in our commitment to being available to someone no matter where their journey goes?
Figgy, if you look on my website www.stephenrollnick.com you will find recordings of all the webinars OK? :)
Christopher de Beer
I think the idea of affirmations and hope also speaks to the power of human connection to me - just experiencing a positive, collaborative relationship can be a hope-inspiring component. The MI Spirit of compassion.
Steve: Regarding HOPE - I recall reading Bill’s perspective on hope where he said that one type of hope is “hope as a way” (ie: that knowing there is a way to do it, or a way out of it, empowers the hope for change). I think the more that affirmations can help clients to own skill, capacity and potential, we also help them to realize at a deep level that “WOW, I CAN change! I do have what it takes”). It supports and reinforces self-efficacy
Thanks hey Paul. I think I get it! Lovely to know you are with us.
Being curious and the spirit of MI shines through and helps people to open up. Being honest, being genuine.
james "figgy" Hardwick
Right on!!! thanks Stephen! The community corrections community needs more MI!
I do feel being older helps. The older you become the more you know that you don't know much!
To help my understanding. Does affirmation have a way of picking apart the complexity of an experience (parts of which someone might be “pleased with” other parts not to pleased) in contrast to praise which is much harder to develop so far?
When is the timing "right" for an affirmation?
Exactly!!! Being fully present and letting the affirmations flow!
In general, when is the best timing for affirmation?
That's so important - it's something we find ourselves doing not something we choose to do!
@Yoshiki when you as the MI listener genuinely hear it and feel it!
Reminds me of the three C's from listening in a time of uncertainty - don't be clever, have clutter and overcomplicate - be present, listen and the affirmation opportunity will arise
If someone can see the excitement in our eyes as we take in what they are doing... we've already done the affirmation in the most authentic way possible!
@Erin Ash Thank you.
I was wondering how long this went on but was willing to take a risk with time!
When we feel that it is wonderful from the bottom of our hearts, then is the best timing to affirm thier experience. Is it right?
GREG - Wow! That is a powerful thought! “…the excitement in our eyes”. What a wonderful experiment that would make to see if helper’s eyes start to dance when the client begins to articulate something that has potential for an affirmation!
@Erin Ash I appreciate your feed back!!
Thank you from Chattanooga, Tennessee! :)
Reddy Sivaprasad Methuku
Excellent format! Great minds! Love to attend more of these sessions. Thank you
I would like to make a comment
Great session. Thanks much to all!
thank you this was a brilliant session, and my practice and teaching will be better for it,
This was so wonderful! Thank you s much
This was amazing! I hope we are doing this again about another MI subject.
Thanks for hosting and the contribution of you all!
Thank you so very much!
As a fellow South African, I can completely advocate for the desperate in South Africa need of support in townships. People live their lives of such poverty but they have hope and ingenuity.
Thank you dear men, it was lovely and interesting to spend time with you. I need to go.. Bye bye till next time
Whoaaaaa Kirsten. Thanks so much hey.
Is "affirmation" basically "noticing and acknowledging in ways which suggest we care"?
Mike "Alfie" Howard
Thanks for an enthusing couple of hours. Would love to stay longer but have another meeting to attend. Stay safe folks
I guess it can be Greg
See yer Alfie
Rhue Rosa, LMSW
I will need to leave now since I have to assist patients but I want to deposit this: As a licensed social worker I have experienced PTSD, a brain aneurism, stroke, hospitalization, illness, raising daughters with diagnoses that include PTSD, ASD, ODD, ADHD. Affirmations and MI have been so valuable with helping me to press on in personal and professional life in spite of obstacles and hardships. I definitely see the value with using these tools.
When I finished my first presentation with some particiapnts at MINT Forum Dublin, Bill said to me "Wow it is wonderful team."That words were affirmation for me.It was short but affirmed me.
maybe we can talk about equipoise another time?
Early in my career, I worked on a mobile outreach van for individuals who were street homeless and then in a psychiatric emergency room. It was amazing to me with genuiness and respect how quickly meaningful therapeutic alliances could be established. Real affirmation can happen in those situations.
Thank you so much!
Stephen: do you have a link on the work you have done with the cultural difference in praise between Xhosa's and Zulu's?
Have to leave to take care of the family. Thank you so much!
The righting reflex are, in my opinion, often particularly strong with leaders. It’s very powerful to watch leaders discover and get conscious about the downsides of the righting reflex.
Ive got to go friends.Bye bye
Many thanks to every single one of you, you have sparked so many interesting and thought provoking things I will take straight back into my practice!
@Amanda Dow, I am not a therapist, so proverbial grain of salt. My curiosity would be "what is making them seek the praise?" What need is there, and how can I help that person articulate that need, and seek it in a more effective way?
Thanks, this was really informative.
@Amanda Dow, especially with middle schoolers, there sense of self is so tenuous, they are still developing their identity. Encouraging them to seek diverse ways of discovering who they are in safe and positive ways would be a skill that is valuable for them to learn.
Thank you so much. As a school psychologist in the UK trying to incorporate MI in my work with young people, it has been very helpful. I do need to go now, but lots of food for thought. Looking forward to next time.
ALLAN ZWEBDEN - My experience has been that the question of timing depends on the MI process within which one is working. (The content of the affirmation is also best matched to process). What’s your thinking on that?
@Erin Ash, thank you for your response. What you have stated is what I have kind of steered towards myself. The students are all "at risk" and have different markers that label them as such. I have just noticed it becoming more prevalent with the current climate of the world and various other factors.
Thanks all - seems SW was well represented! Thanks for the discussion and the comments - very helpful
I think that when clients feels the words is affirmation, then we can say it is affirmation at last.If we consider only from the perspective of the therapist, it would ignore the client's feelings.
Wish I could stay longer … but alas, I must also make a living! Thanks again
I’ll need to drop out in the next 2-3 minutes. Has been very rich - many thanks. I’ve been reflecting on the swim coaching and teaching I do, where the expectation is I tell people what’s right (maybe as Allan would presume). My approach is different though - I want the swimmer to feel for themselves what getting it right feels like for them. I’ve also found trying to break out of the instincts to praise (especially in the swim teaching for children with disabilities) the most challenging. Greatly heartened by today’s discussion that I think I’m on the right lines - happy to share, but maybe another day. Big thanks.
james "figgy" Hardwick
Thanks again for all your work!