Motivational Interviewing and SBIRT

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Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) are evidence-based models for supporting clients in making informed decisions about their health. These evidence-based modalities can be effectively deployed to help guide collaborative conversations with clients about COVID-19 vaccine decision-making.


Connect to End COVID-19: Informed Vaccine Decision-Making

In a complimentary NASW webinar held on January 12, 2022, participants learned how to apply MI and SBIRT frameworks to help clients with their decision-making around COVID-19 vaccination. That webinar is available for self-study, on demand, with complimentary CEUs from the NASW Social Work Online CE Institute.

The webinar is part of NASW’s Connect to End COVID-19 initiative—a partnership between NASW, the NASW Foundation and the Health Behavior Research and Training Institute (HBRT) at The University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2022, NASW and 14 of its state chapters, and HBRT will host 14 MI and SBIRT trainings across the United States, in states with low vaccination rates and high levels of vaccine hesitancy. These interactive trainings, lead by HBRT trainers, will introduce MI and SBIRT, and how these evidence-based modalities can be effectively deployed to help guide collaborative conversations with clients about COVID-19 vaccine decision-making. The complimentary six-hour (one-day) trainings, include five complimentary CEUs for currently practicing, licensed NASW social work members. The NASW Chapters providing trainings include: AL, AR, IN, KY, LA, MI, MO, MS, NV, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX.

Through Connect to End COVID-19, NASW and HBRT also are creating a Mobile Application (Mobile APP) to provide social workers with MI strategies, SBIRT screening questions, and vaccine information. Release of the APP is projected for early summer 2022.

Leading the University of Texas at Austin team are Mary Velasquez, PhD, Professor and HBRT Director; Kirk von Sternberg, PhD, Associate Professor and HBRT Associate Director; Leslie Sirrianni, LCSW, HBRT Senior Research Program and Training Coordinator; Lloyd Berg, PhD, Associate Professor and Division Chief of Psychology at UT-Austin’s Dell Medical School; and Diana Ling, HBRT Program Manager.


Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative conversation style that develops and strengthens a client’s motivation for and commitment to change. It has a strong evidence base in healthcare and focuses on the client’s strengths and capacity for change. In alignment with social work ethics and standards, MI supports and honors the patient’s capacity for, and right to, self-determination and agency.


Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to the delivery of early intervention around substance use disorders that is used in professional and community settings nationwide. It is grounded in MI principles and is meant to be a brief dialogue that takes about 10 minutes. In dialogues about vaccination, SBIRT provides clients the opportunity to explore what is best for them, and for providers to support their client’s decision.


Learn more with the following resources:




Social Work Talks Podcasts


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Learn about "Connect to End COVID-19," an initiative that helps social workers and their clients to make informed decisions about life-saving vaccines. The latest podcast episode focuses on how social workers can talk to harder-to-reach special populations about vaccines and use motivational interviewing to inform people about vaccines.

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COVID-19 Resources

Social workers support informed decision making about important healthcare choices, provide health information from credible sources, and address mental and behavioral health concerns arising as a result of this public health crisis.

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