Motivation is an inside job.

Build your relationships first….then your dentistry. ~ Bob Barkley

Motivation is an inside job.

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Carl Rogers, PhD was a leader in the Humanistic Psychology movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. These concepts evolved into what he called “Person-centered Therapy,” which reflected Rogers’ belief that most people had the most appropriate solutions to their problems already residing with themselves, but were either unaware of their existence, or that the solutions were not fully developed enough yet to be useful to the person.

As a consequence of his mindset towards people, Rogers felt his role needed to be that of a facilitator of self-discovery and self-change, rather than to try and convince others to change in a fashion that HE felt was in their best interest.

The power behind this facilitated self-discovery concept was immediately recognized by Bob Barkley and Nate Kohn, Jr. PhD in the early 1960’s. And over years of experimentation, Barkley and Kohn created what is known today as “Codiscovery,” and the “Three Phase Adult Education” process.

Commonly not discussed however, is that Carl Rogers (and Bob Barkley) knew it was impossible to have a developmental / therapeutic relationship with a person who does not want to commit themselves to the personal work necessary to change. They recognized it was nearly impossible to convince someone else to change for the better, because the desire to improve, hence the motivation to follow through with complex, time consuming decisions requiring personal sacrifice could only come from inside a person, and not through any type of persuasion.

Beyond simple and rather impulsive decisions, it is impossible to “motivate” another person toward sustained effort, action, and personal sacrifice. This motivational force ONLY comes from within, although it can be developed or revealed through facilitation.

So, in a nutshell, that is what Bob did, he developed greater self-understanding, clarity around a preferred future, and then by doing so, he facilitated the internal motivation necessary for the person to follow through.

But Bob only did this with people who were indicating to him in one way or another that THEY wanted to change, and therefore THEY wanted things to change in their life… the patterns…the outcomes relative to dentistry …their feelings about themselves, and so forth.

THE DESIRE TO CHANGE THEREFORE REPRESENTS A PRECONDITION TO PROGRESS TOWARD CHANGE. Hence, when there is no desire to change on the part of the patient, you have a person (at least at that moment) seeking comfort, perhaps seeking sympathy, or even a person seeking affirmation that their self-neglect is an ok thing for them to be doing.

How we choose to address and manage these situations is a personal and philosophical question to be answered, but it is important to acknowledge that we cannot give health to others – we can only judiciously render advice and treatment, which may or may not help a person move in the direction of greater health, as health is a choice – their choice.

Bob knew this, do you?

Paul A. Henny, DDS


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