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Article Synopsis

Michael D. Clark and OARS for Motivational Interviewing to Inspire Change
OARS Acronym = Open Questions: Affirm, Reflect, and Summarize

In his article on motivational interviewing for Federal Probation, Michael D. Clark, Director, Center for Strength-Based Strategies, recommends the OARS approach to open questioning. He argues that OARS questions encourage offenders to begin thinking about change. The four OARS questioning strategies are:

  • Ask Open Questions.
  • Affirm Positive Talk and Behavior.
  • Reflect What You Are Hearing or Seeing.
  • Summarize What Has Been Said.

Consider the following scenario:

Jeremy is a 23-year-old male. Since graduating from high school, Jeremy has accomplished very little. He smokes marijuana 2 times per week. He has both quit and been fired from several entry-level positions. At present, he is not looking for work, but his mother has given him an ultimatum declaring the he will be “kicked out of the house” if he does not demonstrate some effort to progress into adulthood.

You are the Human Services worker assigned to meet with Jeremy. With your knowledge and information about motivational interviewing, discuss and describe your approach to interviewing Jeremy. Support your comments with credible sources where appropriate. Be specific. Give examples.

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