Responsible Use of Motivational Interviewing in Schools (RUMIS)

The purpose of the Responsible Use of Motivational Interviewing in Schools (RUMIS) project is to provide technical support for practitioners, researchers, and higher education personnel using motivational interviewing (MI) in school-based applications. Below, we provide a brief description of what MI involves and how it is being used by school-based providers. Next, we describe the Motivational Interviewing Training and Assessment System (MITAS), which provides the foundation of our technical support. We have also included tools for assessing MI competency of school-based practitioners. Lastly, we have included information on our various MI-focused projects and relevant publications. 

picture of people

Motivational Interviewing in the Schools

Motivational Interviewing is a clinical counseling approach based on empirical evidence documenting the relationship between how people talk about change and their actions. MI helps to facilitate the change process by developing a supportive environment and relationship that evokes change talk, or the person’s own words about their personal motivation to change. Research suggests proficient use of MI is associated with higher levels of engagement, longer time in treatment, and better outcomes than interventions without MI. MI is increasingly being leveraged by researchers and school-based mental health providers, as well as behavioral and instructional coaches and consultants, to improve child social and academic functioning. It is a foundational skill for several evidence-based practices and can also be used as a coaching model or to facilitate everyday conversations about change. 

Motivational Interviewing Training and Assessment System

Research has found that learning to use MI in a authentic practice settings is difficult to achieve without intensive, structured, and context-specific training. However, over the last several years our team has demonstrated success in both training and implementation of MI skills in multiple intervention contexts. We prepared our interventionists for these interventions utilizing the MITAS. It is multiday training procedure that introduces trainees to the technical and relational skills of MI, as well as MI non-adherent practices to avoid. The MITAS also includes simulated practice scenarios, as well as ongoing supervision or professional learning communities.

Our research team has created variations of the MITAS training for use with early childhood family service workers and resource teachers, school social workers, school-based mental health professionals, and behavior consultants. Thanks to an ongoing project, funded by the US Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences, we have recently revised and improved training for Instructional Coaches. Below, we have provided a link where you can access information about our team’s efforts, including training materials from the Motivational Interviewing Skills for Coaches (MISC) project. We hope you find the resources useful.

MI-focused Projects

  • First Step Next & homeBase (R324A150179)

Interventions Manuals:

Assessing the use of MI in schools?

The effect use of Motivational Interviewing skills is in direct proportion to the fidelity with which interventionists utilize the MI skills with fidelity. Research has shown that self-assessment of the use of these skills is very often inaccurate and more thorough forms of assessment are cumbersome for none research purposes, as well as costly. In an effort to provide assessment tools that are both accurate and cost-effective we have developed two measures for MI skill acquisition, the WASE and VASE.

Written Assessment of Simulated Encounters - School-based Applications

  • The Written Assessment of Simulated Encounters for School Based Applications (WASE-SBA) measures a person’s ability to generate reflective responses on paper, providing a kind of minimum assurance, but no guarantee that this person may actually use the same skill during conversations about change. Thus, the WASE–SBA may be best suited as a formative measure of reflective listening during the teaching and learning of MI and simulated coaching situations.

Video Assessment of Simulated Encounters - School-based Applications

  • The Video Assessment of Simulated Encounters- School-based Applications (VASE-SBA) was modified from Rosengren, Baer, Hartzler, Dunn, and Wells (2005) Video Assessment of Simulated Encounters-Revised to adapt the video prompts to simulate the communications from clients within a context specific helping relationship.  Ideally, the VASE-SBA is used in conjunction with the Motivational Interviewing Training and Assessment System (MITAS), which has been contextualized for three diverse applications in educational situations: (1) school-based, (2) home visitation, and (3) higher education.

MI-Related Publications


1. Frey, A.J, Lee, J., Small, J.W., Skidmore, B. Johnson, L., Sibley, M., Owens, J., & Bradshaw, C. (In Press). Mechanisms of Motivational Interviewing. Prevention Science.

2. Frey, A.J, Small, J.W., Lee, J., Crosby, S., Seeley, J.R, Forness, S., & Walker, H.M. (2019).  homeBase: Participation, engagement, alliance, and social validity of a motivational parenting intervention. Children & Schools, p. doi: 10.1093/cs/cdz016.

3. Lee, J., Frey, A.J., Warner, Z, Kelley, A. (2019). Coaching to Improve Motivation in Early Childhood Practitioners and Parents.  In O. N. Saracho (Ed.)  Contemporary perspectives on research on motivation in early childhood education. Charlotte, North Carolina: Information Age Publishing.

4. Iachini, A.L., Lee, J., DiNovo, R., Lutz, & Frey, A.J. (2018). Integrating Motivational Interviewing into Social Work Education: A Practical Example. Journal of Social Work Education, 54, S103-S112.

5. Frey, A.J, Lee, J., & Small, J.W, Walker, H.M., & Seeley, J.R. (2017). Motivational Interviewing Training and Assessment System for School-Based Applications.Emotional & Behavioral Disorders in Youth, 17, 86-92.

6. Frey, A.J., Small, J.W., Lee, J., Walker, H.M., Seeley, J.R., Feil, E.G. & Golly, A. (2015). Expanding the range of the First Step to Success intervention: Tertiary-level support for teachers and families.Early Childhood Research Quarterly30, 1-11.

7. Small, J.W., Lee, J., Frey, A.J, Seeley, J.R, & Walker, H.M. (2014). The development of instruments to measure motivational interviewing skill acquisition for school-based personnel. Advances inSchool Mental Health Promotion, 7, 240-254.

Lee, J., Frey, A., Reinke, W.M., & Herman, K.C. (2014). Motivational interviewing as a framework to guide school-based coaching.Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 7, 225-239.

8. Frey, A.J., Lee, J., Small, J.W., Seeley, J.R., Walker, H.M. & Feil, E.G.(2013). The Motivational Interviewing Navigation Guide: a process for enhancing teachers' motivation to adopt and implement school-based interventions. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 6, 158-173.

9. Frey, A. J., Lee, J., Small, J.W., Seeley, J.R., Walker, H. M., & Feil, E. G. (2013). Transporting motivational interviewing to school settings to improve engagement and fidelity of Tier 2 interventions. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 29, 183-202.

10. Frey, A.J., Alverez, M.E., Sabatino, C.A.(2013). Consultation to improve treatment integrity. Children & Schools, 35, 3-8.

11. Frey, A.J., Sims, K. & Alverez, M.E. (2013). Motivational interviewing and school social work. Children & Schools, 35, 67-70.

12. Frey, A.J., Cloud, R.N., Lee, J., Small, J.W. Seeley, J.R., Feil, E., … & Golly, A. (2011). The promise of motivational interviewing in school mental health. School Mental Health, 3, 1–12.