About our guest
Lieutenant Steve Wohl
- 25 years with the Spokane Police Department
- Training Director at the Spokane Police Academy
- BA from Eastern Washington University in Interdisciplinary Studies, minor in Communication and Psychology.
- Previously supervised the Major Crime (Robbery/Homicide/OIS) unit, Special Victims Unit, Internal Affairs, and Tactical Operations unit.
- Commander of the Spokane Independent Investigations Regional Response team (SIIR) investigating all critical incidents involving regional law enforcement officers.
- SWAT and Hostage Negotiation team Commander 2014-2019.
About this episode
We loved having Steve on as a guest so much that we just had to schedule to have him back again to discuss even more about law enforcement and Motivational Interviewing.
In this podcast we discuss:
- Compliance vs. Behavior Change
- Lewis and Clark school shooting
- New Era of law enforcement
- Fight, flight or freeze
- And so much more!
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Want a transcript? See below!
Hello, and welcome to the communication solution podcast. Here at I F I O C we love to talk communication, we love to talk motivational interviewing, and we love talking about improving outcomes for individuals, organizations, and the communities that they serve. Today, we’ve got Casey Jackson on the line.
John Gilbert and I’m Tammy. Welcome to the conversation.
Hello everyone. Welcome back to the MI guys here. We have our team as usual. And this time again, we have our very special guest, Steve Wohl. I’m saying that right? I know sometimes I mess that up. Um, but anyhow, Steve, welcome back and thank you for coming back.
Steve Wohl: Oh, my, my pleasure. Glad to, join you guys again and, and, love the, the opportunity. So appreciate you guys having me on the team.
Casey Jackson: Yeah. You know, Steve, what I wanna dive in with this is, [00:01:00] you know, after we wrap last time, the first thing you said is, gosh, we didn’t even get into the active shooter side of this.
And, I think that is so predominant right now, unfortunately, um, you know, I just know you’ve had multiple experiences and I think even launching this, what I want to really look at and, and kind of lay the foundation for is walking down that path between compliance and behavior change. Because even as we tee this up and we talked about it quite a bit last time, but I just think, I think from my mind, it helps me from a social worker.
Really bridge that gap that we talked about last time between, you know, that the behavioral side of it, law enforcement side of it, community safety, you know, civilian safety, officer safety, like just, I think it’s just such a complex issue that people try to oversimplify. And if we’re gonna start from a simple place, I just wanna start from that place of kind of compliance versus behavior change and why law enforcement has to put on the paths that they have to just.
For, [00:02:00] for reasons that most of us don’t even comprehend. Um, and then the way that your brain continues to keep trying to expand, how do we make this as effective as possible with the best possible outcomes for everyone? So I just wanna start from there as we walk down this path, but I just wanna kinda set that tone for, for people listening as well, too, that this is just so wildly complex, and I don’t want to feel like it gets oversimplified.
So, but, so, so what were some of your thoughts as we were wrapping up and they, the things you were thinking, like, I just wish we could have had a chance to touch on this a bit.
Steve Wohl: Yeah. You know, I think with Motivational Interviewing Casey, you’re always looking for behavioral change and, looking for the way to get into people who are in crisis. With, active shooters, a lot of times we are called when, the violence is, is going on. And we have got to stop or neutralize that threat, and we don’t always get the opportunity to sit and talkwith the person in crisis to, hopefully end the situation, [00:03:00] the bad situation, in a way that would be beneficial to all involved.
Um, a lot of times we show up, after the fact, unfortunately, and not always do we get that opportunity? I had mentioned, in previous conversations with you guys, uh, about a shooting, a school shooting we had here in Spokane. Boy, it’s, it’s going on 20 years, probably 18 to 20 years ago at Lewis and Clark high school.
And so I was a part of a specialty team that, showed up to that, situation. And ultimately we ended up having the opportunity, to sit and engage and, and talk with, a young man who was going through some, some real crisis in his life. And I look back now and I think to myself, had, we had, your training, Casey, could we potentially, have altered or could we have, maybe got those, those hooks, that we needed to, help him, prior to him forcing, a, a shooting. He was, troubled and he, ended up forcing law [00:04:00] enforcement to, shoot him, um, which is, which is devastating for, for everybody involved.
Not only him, but his family, but the law enforcement as well. Cuz that’s not the outcome that we look for. In a perfect world, we would, utilize the tools that, you have trained us with Casey and, and tools that we’ve, taken through different courses. And we would had a better outcome.
Not always is that gonna happen? Right. But we’re always looking for that, especially now. Anytime we engage with somebody in a, a negotiation, or a, somebody that’s going through crisis, we’re looking to, end it, in a way that, is mutually beneficial for, for those involved and, and police.
So I think that’s big is looking at, at how now Motivational Interviewing can change those active shooters where we have a chance to talk with them.
Casey Jackson: What was the scenario? How’d that play out? I mean, what was the, for as much as you can share about it, I mean, what, how did that situation play with that youth?
Like what had happened? Was there anybody else that was [00:05:00] harmed in that? Or how did that, how did the situation unfold?
Steve Wohl: Yeah. So he, going through, definitely mental health issues, and later, diagnosed mental health issues. He had taken a firearm, I believe, it belonged to his father, and had gone to Lewis and Clark high school in the morning.
Ended up going into a, like a science wing and fired off, some rounds. Um, and kept some, some people in a, in a classroom for a time. They were eventually able to, escape. Police were called a fire alarm was pulled. We responded once we got the call that, um, it actually was an active shooter where we had, a young man with a, gun inside the school.
And we were able to with, uh, security and everything, we were able to lock him down into one hallway of this, of this science lab. He ended up barricading the room. But after a time we had a couple negotiators from our team. Um, at the time who were able to get a dialogue with him, through a [00:06:00] doorway, he would, he would come and go.
But he was, uh, definitely in, the pit of despair that day. He just kept wanting, to force and encounter as he wanted to take his life. So truly, I don’t, believe he was there to hurt other people, but wanted to force, a deadly encounter with law enforcement. And so we had an opportunity to, for an extended period of time to talk with him, face to face kind of down the hallway.
And, he would, he would kind of go through those, times where he’d be up and then he’d come back down and we were able to, to kind of bring him back down, and have him a little bit of rational talk with him. And then he would get very irrational. Ultimately, uh, the negotiations broke down, unfortunately.
And he ended up, pointing a weapon at officers, to start that, I guess, uh, suicide attempt. He ended up, being shot and, we had medics on our team, on our SWAT team at the time, uh, who, so we were, we were to him able to clear everything out, um, very, very [00:07:00] short amount of time.
And we were actually able to, save his life. And in the end, he ended up getting some help that he needed. And we actually built a pretty good relationship with him. To the point where he became a part of our, talk that, that our two negotiators did around the nation where wow, we would go in and talk with and come, came back.
And I’ve met with him since that opportunity or since that time. And, uh, it’s kind of led to a, an opportunity for us to, talk with people and to talk about mental health and about, uh, these situations. And he was, able to, move past that very, that very sad encounter and, and is now doing so much better.
Casey Jackson: You know, it’s so easy me for, to get caught up in the, just the, the story of that, the narrative of it.
And then there’s a moment in time. I cuz my, my brain never stops. I think when you were relaying that Steve, the, the part that hit me, was, and you and I have talked about this, we talked about [00:08:00] in the last podcast as well too, is that, that vacillation between trying to get engagement, relationship based or trying to work with their ambivalence internally, you know, there’s that.
And I think that’s just, I think that’s where we’re starting to find that where it’s gonna be the intersection between some of the expertise in law enforcement and negotiations and expertise in communication from like a Motivational Interviewing perspective, looking at the ambivalence. But what struck me when you’re talking about it.
I just started thinking about different body cam footage that I’ve looked at, and the difference between active shooters that are looking for suicide by cop and active shooters that are, actively like on the verge of taking their own life with no assistance from officers, you know that they’re not doing that.
And for me, I think where my MI brain goes and I’m, I’m treading lightly here because I, this is unexplored ground. But the first thing I think about is if they want suicide by cop, my brain is like, I can almost guarantee that the ambivalence exists inside of their brain. They don’t wanna do it. They can’t do it.
I don’t wanna take my own life, which is all signs [00:09:00] of potential change talk in there. Just, when you were talking about, it’s like, okay, where would my brain have gone in trying to have this conversation find, where is that capacity? I know from law enforcement, it’s where there’s a hook from motivational Interviewing it’s, where is that potential for ambivalence?
Where can I shine light or reflect something that they can see? There’s two sides of their brain that are firing at the same time. And I think that’s, what’s so fascinating. And I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s the first thing my brain goes to that the difference between wanting to be shot by somebody else versus.
I’m gonna kill you first, or I’m gonna kill myself. And nobody gets a chance to where I think there’s, it feels like there’s a, a, a smaller sliver of ambivalence in those in instances when it’s an active shooter who wants to be shot. I think that by definition, is there some modicum of ambivalence that has to exist inside of their brain then?
And I think that’s the part that it’s just, for me, it’s just fascinating to explore the construct in terms of how do you. Go in there. And I think that’s where, where my, what my sense [00:10:00] is is that when we try to go relationship based, that’s not what they want. And that’s where they start going more into, like, I’m not gonna do this game.
Versus working within their mindset of going, can I tease out both sides of where the ambivalence exists? Um, you know, you’re just done. I think what I, I jumped to is I think of how. Efficient and effective O’Brien was with the individual with mental health addiction issues on the fire escape.
And they show that video all the time. And that was one by the time he got him in the back of the, of the car, you know, he said, you know, I didn’t wanna take my own. I can’t take my own life. But I want somebody else to do it because I can’t. Um, and I don’t wanna live anymore. And it’s like, I’m like, I mean, literally if you get out of the context of it, that is just the, the core definition of ambivalence of deep, deep ambivalence with an individual is, you know, I want to, I want them to take my life, but I can’t take my own life, but I’m just tired of the bullshit.
I can’t take it anymore. And so it’s like, oh my gosh, this is where I always want to dive in and go, okay, we’re really on a precipice. [00:11:00] Promising practice of things that from an evidence based practice perspective, can we explore this and really look at this, but then I think the level of , you know, of critical incidents here is just like, you know, how much do we explore?
But that’s also where promising practice comes from. We’re we’re kind of treading new territory at the same time. So I’m just curious what your thoughts are because you’ve been inside some of those brains before what your thoughts are.
Steve Wohl: Yeah, I fully agree, Casey, and I think we, have to dissect the difference between, a individual in crisis, who is wanting to hurt himself and not others. And then those who are, true terrorist acts that go into schools and just wanna cause mayhem that don’t exactly, um, have any desire to have. They don’t have the ambivalence because they know this is the outcome. This is why I’m gonna do.
On top of that. I think there’s a difference between, juveniles and adults when it becomes, um, even suicidal. Cause I think some adults have made the decision and there’s nothing we’re gonna say they’ve made that decision. They, they might not be able to [00:12:00] do it themselves, but they’ve kind of made that decision where we look at some juveniles who, as we know their brains aren’t fully functioned.
And so they’re not complete. And so they’re, having a hard time with that ambivalence and a lot of times,. I look now at every encounter that we have with, uh, people in crisis and look through that Motivational Interviewing lens of how can we make that connection to get them back to reality versus it’s the despair end, you know?
And so, but there is a huge difference between, those very criminal, minded. Terrorists. I call him that go into schools and just cause harm because that is what they’re gonna do. Um, and unless we stop that threat, neutralize, that threat, they’re gonna cause as much harm as possible where the Lewis and Clark one, we were able to, to slow down.
He didn’t wanna hurt anybody else ended up, he wanted to hurt himself, but wanted us to do it for him. I think, I fully agree with you Casey, in, in that. In a true [00:13:00] Lewis and Clark shooting or other situations where I’ve negotiated with people who are suicidal on the side of a bridge.
Most of the time there’s ambivalence because they, they don’t know a hundred percent, if they want to do it, they know it’s final. And so, yes, if we can delve into that and build those relationships and, and get into that, um, can we, and a lot of times we do pull them back to reality where we can get them the help they need.
Casey Jackson: You know, this is fascinating to me because I just, and I’m just pulling numbers just anecdotally from my own experience. But when you were talking about that, like the terrorist brain side of it, like this is my last day and the ambivalence has been resolved. There is no active ambivalence in that this today is my last day.
It’s my last cigarette. It’s my last whatever. And this is, this is a done deal. What my brain went to from my years, working in, uh, corrections in, in federal and state corrections is, I always would tell people in my experience. So this is anecdotal and I’m, I’m just wondering if it’s where it lands with your [00:14:00] experience with it is for everyone in prison who by definition can be diagnosed antisocial personality disorder, right.
Or they wouldn’t be in prison. I always said about maybe 5% of that population was truly sociopathic with no social conscience. Probably 90 to 95% are people that just didn’t made bad decisions. Horrible things should be imprisoned. There should be consequences, but when they’re laying in bed at night, they’re like, how the hell did I get here?
Or, you know, and missing things. And God, that was stupid. And, you know, so there’s that the remorse that happens. But I think it was really difficult for me because I always in my social worker’s side is that there’s always that redeemable. There’s something inside that I can find. But for the years that I worked in prison, There was that five to 10%.
That was like that kind, where you go home and you just don’t feel good in your stomach. Like, it just feels like there’s that kind of evil out there, that there is no social conscience there. It really is, if they’re released, it’s gonna be mayhem and there’s just no [00:15:00] remorse. What’s no, there’s no even semblance of remorse anywhere inside of their experience.
Um, it’s more of a sense of fulfillment than remorse. Um, and it’s not from a trauma perspective. It’s just from a, a brain perspective from my experience. And I think that’s what I think of. And again, I don’t know the numbers, that’s just what anecdotally I always felt was about 10 to five to 10% was truly sociopathic.
And I wonder if that’s the same thing with the terrorist, but I don’t know that that mentality, that when they wake up in the morning, last cup of coffee, last cigarette, and I’m gonna do damage before I step out. And nothing, nothing is gonna stop because from a Motivational Interviewing perspective, there is no ambivalence that exists, um, when you’re looking at that.
And so I think, I think that’s another part of it too. But I don’t know which, and then there’s the social media and the media side of it, even, you know, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, then there’s the, how it’s presented to the public. So I don’t know, because it tends to be the worst or the worst are the ones we always get a see splattered on the screen, but it’s those then I keep thinking about where is that percentage of [00:16:00] people where things are reconciled, but either law enforcement doesn’t get credit for it, or it’s just another day at the office for negotiations.
Where it is just massive ambivalence inside of these individuals. So I’m just, I have to throw all that out there. Cause my brain was running through the Motivational Interviewing lens and thinking about where is that modicum of ambivalence? And when you said that, I know it’s gonna be a terrorist act. My gut automatically went to, oh, there is no ambivalence.
There, there, they are gonna take as many people as they can take out and they know they’re going to. So what, I’m just gonna throw that out back to you, what your thoughts are and how’d you, you deconstruct.
Steve Wohl: Yeah. You know, I think your numbers are probably pretty close may, maybe a little high, but I, I do think there’s a continuum of there’s the, and I don’t even, I even hate to say their names because I don’t like to throw to, to publicize ’em, but the John Wayne Caseys, the Bunds that are just criminal they’re, they’re evil, there’s evil people, and had the opportunity to sit down.
With John Wayne, Casey or whatever, I’m not gonna change what he, what his mind is and what he wants to do and what, where he gets his satisfaction from.
Casey Jackson: That’s exactly what I do with [00:17:00] mine goes to Hannibal Hector. Yeah. That’s my Hannibal. Hector is just like, I don’t care how smart you are. I don’t care.
There’s no semblance of ambivalence inside of there. None. Yeah, no, it’s how you get. Yeah, no, totally.
Steve Wohl: But I do think there are many people that are currently in prison. There are people who, unfortunately will become terrorists of some kind or something that life, um, whether it be social media, whether it be, um, family things, maybe how they grew up, just their environment, some of that plays a role in putting them in a situation that is just the Tinder that sets them off.
And then they’re down the road going. I can’t believe I did that. I didn’t see myself doing this where the other one. Know good well that yes, that what they’re doing and, and, and how, I mean, they’re just evil is what it comes down to. So I would say that 5%, um, you know, being that, that sociopath, person that you talk about is, is probably a, a pretty legitimate number, just, you know, from just my experience, [00:18:00] 26 years in law enforcement, um, just for the people we deal.
Casey Jackson: See, and that’s the thing I think that’s so, I mean, cuz we keep peeling back layers and peeling back layers and I think that’s where it gets so fascinating. I think one of the things I wanna say too, knowing this is a podcast and if people are listening to it, I think because we are really looking at a lot of unexplored ground.
I mean, some of this ground has been explored so many times, but I think the things you and I are talking about are starting to explore things in just a different way. Like you were talking about last time, you can see more convergence than divergence between, you know, the behavioral health side, just with CodeDeploy and law enforcement, where people tend to think that there’s more of a divergence there.
But I think there’s this piece of it, about what are we trying to get people to understand in terms of how the brain works and this intervention, or how do we communicate in a way to be effective? That what struck me? I remember, I think it was the first series that I did for law enforcement ever. And it was, there [00:19:00] was tension in the room.
People were listening, but there was tension in the room, but I remember God, he was the nicest guy in the long run. people were pretty. Not as they were just present. Um, but guarded rightly so, but the one I wanted to talk about is I think he was, I don’t know if he was with, uh, I, if he was with internal affairs at the time, but he was doing a lot of the investigations and he said he just became really transparent and just really a nice way.
Actually, it wasn’t confronted, but he said, you know, I, I guess my biggest concern is I’m gonna see you sitting across from me, um, in a court room,. Testifying how I didn’t do this and it cost somebody their life. He goes that I, I just have to throw that out there cuz that’s part of where my anxiety’s coming from.
And I, I think I wanna be transparent about that right now too, because we really are talking about things that have never fully been explored. So there’s no expertise around it. So, I don’t want people to think that we’re saying, oh, this is the right way to do it. What [00:20:00] we, what I think we, I, I think what I love this conversation is because we’re kind of piecing together different realities and seeing where can we build a better mouse trap?
Where can we do something that’s better outcomes for all people? So I just, I feel like a need to say that, cause I don’t want people listening, thinking, well, why isn’t everybody doing this? Or this is what they said, or this is what it shows. And it’s like, this truly is kind of the Dawn of a different way of looking at things.
Bringing some of the old ways of doing things that we know effective to the table. So I think that’s partly what I wanna say when I move into this is as we start to explore this, nobody can say what was right or wrong. I can, I couldn’t sit in front of somebody and say they should have used Motivational Interviewing this would’ve solved the problem, because I think that’s asinine for me to think that I could know that, but I think what’s so fascinating is, is we continue to explore where is that?
Modicum ambivalence can make a profound difference in this outcome. Because we know the data is so clear. If we can work through the ambivalence, we know the data around. If you give more oxygen to [00:21:00] change, talk, the person talks more about change. The data is really clear about that. When we, when we use affirmative statements or self-affirming statements, the data’s really clear that the brain starts to go there.
It wants to have this self affirmation inside. So, and that’s with individual statements that can come out of our mouth. So that’s where I start to peel it back from when you’ve got a brain that we’re saying, where is that modicum of ambivalence inside the brain and how do we get some oxygen in there to see, can we expand on that ambivalence and then utilize that ambivalence to move more towards the change talk side?
And that’s just a different mindset. It, I think where I get fascinated, I’m gonna throw it back to you, Steve, on this is I think that’s my fascination between like reading the Chris boss stuff, you know, never split the difference, looking at negotiations mindset and there’s some parallels, but there’s almost a fundamental mindset difference between the two.
I was even thinking about that when I did the training last week, or this week with, with, uh, Kern camps group was that it’s like, okay, you’re looking for that hook. You’re looking for the hook. You’re looking for the hook, you’re looking for the hook. And, [00:22:00] and I think that construct is really similar to where we’re looking for that Motum of ambivalence, but it’s almost like to.
To get the win and get the safety, which is good. And I’m thinking about where do we get to that resolution of ambivalence? We can set up for longer term change or a warmer handoff to another system or, or service. So, but that’s just my take on it as I deconstructed. So what are, what are your thoughts on it?
Steve Wohl: Yeah, well, first I want to I’ll address kind of like the part where you said there was a, you know, somebody who would, who was kind of, you know, guarded a little bit guarded at a training. I think the law enforcement world, um, we’re a different animal. As you know, God, I do our, our, our mindset is always like, you know, because everything that they worried that you would do, we get every time with a defense attorney, right?
They’re gonna break everything we did. And. Here’s the cause of this, you know, there’s, there’s, there’s a correlation between the outcome because of what you did or what you didn’t do. And so a lot of times, every, every event, we’re a part of, we’ve got to have a game plan of, [00:23:00] um, we wanna do everything correctly, but sometimes even if we do everything correctly, something bad could happen.
Uh, like the, the Lewis and Clark shooting. Right? We did, we, we negotiated, we, we had a good report. Everything was going smooth in the end. um, that young gentleman unfortunately pushed our hands and, and a bad outcome became of it. Right. And so, um, you’re, we’re always kind of playing that, that mindset. So I, I understand where they come from knowing you though.
Um, as a person, I know I can easily tell ’em, that’s not the case with Casey or with this training. It’s this is truly, um, a wave of the future and how it’s helping, not, not only law enforcement, but, but relationships. With, with family, with everything. Right. And so, um, that piece I felt like I needed to, to touch on.
Um, but I do. Yeah. I, I do, I do agree with you, Casey. It’s changing in a good way with law enforcement, and the courses , and the mindset and the, um, dealing with people in crisis and, and looking back into, um, what we call the hoaxes, um, you know, in negotiations or somewhere to, to basically, [00:24:00] uh, alter that person’s game plan.
And ultimately that’s what we want to do, whether it is through, you know, getting a hook into ’em or, or, or getting into that ambivalence and, and getting them to realize that they can. Make make a decision today, step off the ledge with us, the, the, the ledge or, or put down that weapon or, or do whatever.
It’s changing how, not only law enforcement, but. Many relationships can be impacted by it, through, you know, the, the Motivational Interviewing piece that, that you teach and that you bring to the law enforcement side. Um, and it’s, it’s, it’s a teamwork that we’re, we’re looking at, right? We don’t have all the answers and, and as you have stated, MI is not gonna work in every situation you can, you know, when there’s no ambivalence, right?
Yes, absolutely. And so, yeah, and so, but in those situations where, where it can work, we need to be proficient and, and, and have the, the skills. To make that hook. Like we talked about, um, with Jan, where, where Jan and I [00:25:00] had that, uh, that situation where I was able to, to, to chat with her, during a mock, crisis, in one of your, your trainings, um, we just need to, we need to continue to build those skills so that when we can do it, and it is , available, and we can make that difference.
We do. And we don’t lose that person. Um, so yeah, I, I fully agree with you though.
Casey Jackson: I got so many things going through my brain. The, I, I, it’s fascinating to me with my own ambivalence about. I am such a bleeding hard social worker. I love what I do. And I, I know what a bleeding hard social worker, and then I hear myself.
not defending law enforcement, but I just wanna, I want people to have perspective. And when you were just talking about what struck me, Steve, is that I think what people don’t fully give credence to is how many people. People won’t allow themselves to have a [00:26:00] camera strapped to their chest and watch people work, have them work all day.
If there’s things where they could get in trouble, a physician is not gonna do that. A surgeon’s not gonna do that. A social worker won’t even record a session to get feedback on their motivational interviewing skills. Doctors. Won’t do it. Nurses don’t wanna do it. Nobody wants to be monitored and law enforcement doesn’t have a choice.
And so everything can literally be deconstructed and criticized. And with that, I just want people to understand as professionals, if that’s what your life was, are there times that you’re gonna stutter step in what you do from what you normally do, because you know, people are watching and those microseconds can be life and death microseconds.
I don’t think people have an appreciation of how complex that is. And then you have. 50 different experts in a courtroom saying why, what you did was wrong when you’re a human being and your brain can only absorb so much data [00:27:00] based on the training that you’ve had. So I think that’s, you know, you’ve all the, all these different things and I’m not going right or wrong, good or bad.
Any of that. I just want people to understand how perspective, how complex this is. And I said, this last time, I’m gonna say it again. Especially since people are listening to, this are usually more on the Motivational Interviewing side of the world. Most of us. don’t even want our recordings to be listened to, to get feedback on if we’re doing good in motivational interviewing.
Even if we’re role playing a situation where it’s not life and death, people get nervous about just doing a role play about, should I go back to the gym or not, and submitting that cause they’re afraid to get feedback, like something as benign as that compared to the situ situations we’re talking about with life and death and no choice about this is gonna be recorded.
So I just, I just feel a profound need to say that again. Like I did last time and. Podcast around this. I want people to have perspective and it’s not. I think cuz if we’re in Motivational Interviewing then there has to be some sense of empathy there. Right. so it’s just like, yeah. So there’s no, I have no sympathy for Steve, um, [00:28:00] but a profound amount of empathy.
So I think that’s the thing that I think of is just that think of the complexity of what we’re talking about here. And when you hear Steve talk about, you know, a terrorist mindset where the, the intention. Las Vegas, the intention is to do as much death and destruction as possible. Um, and so it’s just like, that’s fairly easy for us to say, yeah, that’s, that’s an, that’s not an MI based situation.
That is a isolate and, you know, take him out. I mean, that’s just, there’s there. That is. Stop this immediately kind of perspective. It’s just, I think it’s just fascinating. We have the capacity to have these conversations about where, where does that potential for ambivalence exist? And I know some of the, the curiosity from some of the Motivational Interviewing purists are gonna be well, how can you even use this in law enforcement, if there’s not a specific target behavior?
And what I keep thinking about is. When we get inside that ambivalence, you know, there could be multiple target behaviors, but I just think from a law enforcement perspective is a target [00:29:00] behavior is just that no one gets hurt. You know, that the person gets the help that they need, that that’s, you know, they’re pretty good social target behaviors that we wanna work towards.
It’s not, are they gonna quit smoking or keep smoking? Um, and I think this, it pushes. The motivation side of the house, I think to really start to expand because we get so target behavior focused on how do we help people resolve ambivalence in a way that gets to a positive outcome, even if we can’t drill it down to one specific target behavior.
So just, I, I keep, wanna throw out context when I think about the audience and, and the ways that, you know, so many people that are interested in Motivational Interviewing the way their brains can absorb
Tami Calais: well case as we’re wrapping up and everything too, that. You know, you talked about the target behavior also, you know, we at, IFIOC like to talk about the focus mountain people’s values.
I also think there’s a little bit of a difference between a target behavior and someone’s values. Sometimes people will not, sometimes [00:30:00] people want to live in alignment with their values. And so you might not necessarily have a target behavior, but you do have opportunity to explore people’s values and the alignment or misalignment that is there.
Casey Jackson: Well, and when you say that, Tammy, the, the first thing I think of is, and it’s how, when we’re talking about this in this context is how quickly our brains get sucked down into the trees of just the day to day, day to day operations and day-today Ney. And, and the more we just, the more the trees close in on our brain.
The the further away our brain can see the top of the mountain where our core values are. And I think these are some of the individuals we’re talking about. I, I think the one that the LC one and so just, just how quickly that the trees can close in, or if you’re born in a system like Steve was talking about, if it’s the family of origin or through mental health issues or just, you know, whatever going on with brain chemistry or environment.
So the way those trees kind of close in on us, as far as what we think are the most important things, we do start to lose perspective. And I think. I don’t even wanna go [00:31:00] too far down this rabbit hole, but then I keep thinking about that same thing from all of the people in the situations, like almost every weekend now, where there’s, where there’s active shooting is that I think with social media, how those trees just close in around our brain.
And we can’t see the forest through the trees, literally. I mean, there’s just, all these issues are so wrapped around their face, that they lose sight of who they are. And what their ultimate values and goals are. And, and the reason why Tammy, I agree that a hundred percent, I, I remember John and I were at a, the mint, uh, one of the international mint forums, all the Motivational Interviewing network of trainers.
Um, and it was the first time that I heard, uh, Steve Rollnick say, you know, maybe we emphasize target behavior a little bit too much, and maybe we’re not looking enough at values. And John and I literally, like I made, he looked at each other and said, oh my God, this is, this is what we’ve been teaching for probably six years now.
Kind of felt like we were outliers because there was so much pressure about no, there has to be a target behavior. It’s not Motivational Interviewing and here’s Steven Rollnick. One of the, you know, joint creators of motivational interviewing saying, you know, I think [00:32:00] target behavior’s really important, but I think we’re missing.
Where is that deeper motive as well too. And that’s where values. We need to start looking at human values as well, too. And then I, then I translate that all the way back into this conversation with Steve going, we just know there’s a, there, there, you know, we know that there’s things we can continue to grow and evolve and explore and expand in not only our knowledge base, but our skill set on, on trying to work towards all of us, trying to get towards better outcomes for.
John Gilbert: Yeah, I’ll, I’ll mention too with the training that, uh, we were doing this week as well, that I was conducting for the values piece of it, with the focus mountain that you’re bringing up Tammy, and what you were talking about. Casey being more values based. There’s a lot of resonance around it and it’s a particular skill.
And, uh, even after we went through these three day, um, components of it and went through activities, it really is one of these things that we get so sucked into the target behavior of this particular thing that it’s, it’s so hard. And I could only imagine [00:33:00] Steve, in, in your situations. Crisis is on the table, um, to not make it about a particular outcome, because I think of, you know, this person is seeking more connection in their life and not feeling so alone or feeling, um, wanting to have some relief and some peace of mind from the constant whatever in their head or abuse they’re facing or whatever’s going on.
They’re, they’re, they’re seeking something. Uh, if there is that ambivalence in there and there’s motivation in. It’s to then recognize and say things like one way you’re thinking is to take your life. That brings peace of mind. And that’s something that you’ve thought about a lot. And, you know, there are other ways like Casey, you referred to that O’Brien video.
We show in. The, uh, trainings with being on the bridge, you know, you realize there are other ways to go about your values, or you thought about other ways to go about your values, you know, imparting these in reflections or having questions is just to do [00:34:00] that and then not attach yourself to the particular outcome of.
Not jumping them, not following through at a certain point, you gotta move to compliance in the situations. It sounds like Steve, you were talking about where all of a sudden, okay, I gotta make a judgment call. That is this something I just gotta come in and, and make the decision. Right. But leading up until that point, can you try to be values based and open.
Two different ways to get up that mountain, to have their, their values get met. That’s just a very heady conceptual thing. Versus when you’re in the moment being scrutinized with your body cam footage, uh, I just wanna honor that as well, but there seems to be a practical there, there, that seems to be important when, when you get into the communication of it.
So I don’t know how much Steve. Resonates for you or how much you’ve done that with your own skill set. But I would say that’s something Casey that I have seen people [00:35:00] resonate with a lot are the values.
Steve Wohl: Yeah. I agree with you, John. Um, and Tammy on the, on the values piece. And I think when, when people are in crisis, whether whether you are a 17 year old guy or gal that can’t see past, you know, very myopic, can’t see past what’s happening today.
Or you are a, a 50 year old person who’s battling, um, a, a disease and their world is closing in and you can’t see that forest through the trees. They can’t break out of there. Our goal in law enforcement, I think in, in, and especially in the, in your world is to clear those trees, help them find that piece where they can look past this very nearsighted right now, this needs to happen to fix it to, to, to help them maybe clear those trees and weeds out a little bit to say there, there is something to look forward to and to, to kind of.
Clear that mind. And I think that’s where, um, Motivational Interviewing comes in, cuz it’s teaching us [00:36:00] how to move past that ambivalence and to, to get that hook and to really help them, um, see that there is a future and that it’s not just, uh, the negative right now. And, and you know, I, we see this in people in crisis, um, in, in mental health crisis.
But we also see it in, in, like we talked about patients who are going through cancer and going through other things, it overwhelms their brains. Yes. And unfortunately we can use this type of, of training and tools in life. It’s not just critical incidences like that. Right.
Casey Jackson: Excellent. Yes. Well, and, and what you’re talking about when they’re overwhelmed in life, this is where I get into the, the brain science side from a trauma inform side is, and when our brain gets overwhelmed, where does it go?
It drops down into our reptilian brain, which is what fight flight or freeze, like, I mean, lit what you just articulate is the definition of when people are stressed and overwhelmed, what does the brain do? It goes into survival mode and survival mode is. Usually one of those, you know, fight flight or [00:37:00] freeze, which is exactly hijack, right?
Steve Wohl: Absolutely. We, we call it hijack for a reason, right? Yes. It’s boom. It’s taken over. We now immediately, you guys, us have to find a way to get that, take that back, that hijack back right. Of that, of that reptilian brain.
Casey Jackson: And I think this is what’s so interesting or the irony in it is because what we know what the data shows is when people feel deeply, deeply, authentically heard and understood.
That high level of empathy, high acronym, not sympathy, not, not the compassion, even side of it, but what is deep, accurate communication of empathy, active empathy, accurate empathy. That’s where that brain starts to relax a little bit because it doesn’t have to be on the defense then, uh, when it feels hard and understood.
And when it’s not on the defense, what is it? When I do it start, it wants to start to explain what the struggle was, which is where the ambivalence exists. And I think that for me, peeling that level back is like that mindset is so different than where’s the hook. Where’s the. and I think this is where we keep kind of pushing a little bit further the ball a little bit further down the field in terms of, yeah.
That is a different way, [00:38:00] a different mindset with it. Um, yeah. And the last thing I wanna wrap up with that kind of dovetails with this is John. One of the things that you said that really, again, I think it’s where we’re pushing the ball down the, the field a bit more, um, because it is such a, a fascinating concept to deconstruct is.
When we talked about detachment from the outcome, I literally, I can really, I can remember where captain Cummings was sitting and Dan waters was sitting in the room at, I F I O C when we’re talking about, you know, working on detachment from the outcome and both of ’em said, Casey, we are attached to the outcome.
We don’t want them to jump . I was like, we are. And I said, I, I, I know that. And I know that that instinct is we are attached to the. But that in some ways can contaminate the situation as well, too, because then you’re more about what you’re trying to get for the outcome versus trying to be that every modicum of energy that you put there, every I iota of energy, you put, there is one less capacity for you to be in that [00:39:00] person’s reality to reduce the resistance piece of it.
So there’s this almost shadow tension going on of being attached to the outcome. That makes it harder to let go. It’s almost like this rubber band that keeps you from leaning forward and reaching out a little bit further to get inside of their experience when you’re holding onto the outcome, the outcome that you can’t control.
And again, this is why it’s pushing the ball even further into the darkness a little bit. Cause it’s like, yeah, that’s really easy to say when you’re not sitting in that situation. Um, you know, and I think this goes back to the humanity of what we’re talking about, of how complex these issues really.
Steve Wohl: Yeah.
You know, and that’s an interesting point, Casey, in that I think it, it shows it like just doing, I go back to that same training we did with Jan at I F I O C and I was attached to the outcome because I felt, I felt Jan’s pain, even though it was fictitious. Yes, she was. She, it was, it was not, it was, she was not gonna jump off a bridge yet.
I could feel her pain and struggle and she could feel when I [00:40:00] made a connect. A hundred percent real as that. Right. I mean, so there, there, there’s a, there’s a human piece to that, that having that connection, but you’re exactly right in that sometimes there’s outcomes that we’re not gonna control, but if we can kind of try, start working out that peeling away that.
That those layers of the ambivalence. Um, that’s where it, it happens, but there’s a human side of it too. Right?
Casey Jackson: Yeah. And, and, and I think the thing I wanna wrap up, God, now there’s 15 more podcasts I wanna do. Um, but , as soon as you say that, Steve, oh my God. My brain goes straight to that moment is when I can almost guarantee if we had your brain hooked up, is your mirror neurons lit up at that moment in time?
And I wonder the distance between the mirror neuron. Lighting up, which is where, where accurate empathy comes in. When we know that we can almost step inside the experience of another human being, we have that brain capacity to do that with, with, you know, with, with the way that our brain is structured and how far distant that is from our need to control the situation, which is gonna be probably closer to the own [00:41:00] fight flight freeze reaction of trying to get them off the edge is gonna be hovering between that really smart part of the brain.
And that f*** something goes wrong here. This is not gonna bode well. And I think that. Uh, because I think that’s where the whole team was at. It was on that precipice of, yeah, we get this empathy, we get this reflective listening, but you’re the one who stepped off into the, I think, into the mirror neuron and just went.
Whoa, this feels real. And she felt the realness there and it’s like that to me, that’s where the synapses jumped the gap. Um, and the connection happened. And I think that is different than trying to control outcome. The I, to me, I, I not even in law enforcement, I think in behavioral health, healthcare, I think in all of our professions that I think is the new frontier of how do we explore.
The brain on that level. And how do we maximize that to improve outcomes? And is it, is it born ironically from that depth of empathy, um, to get that connection, to get somebody off the edge. which is different than finding a hook to pull them off the edge. Sure, sure. So, well, this guy can’t even thank you.
Now. This is my brain hurts now. so [00:42:00] it’s oh my God. This really big. I really do think this be something we do quarterly. Um, just there’s so many things we can talk about, but I think the law enforcement thing is just so prevalent in our world right now. Um, yeah, I, I. A thousand things going on and I know we need to wrap up, so yeah.
John Gilbert: Yeah. I know we need to wrap up too. So I won’t, uh, continue on, on the, the many thoughts that I could, uh, add in here as well, and, and riff off of with, with you all. So, Steve, I just wanna say thank you so much for coming on and, joining us and yeah, it sounds like we’ll be getting to do this again, if you’d be open to it and, just getting to learn more of your experience and all that you bring to the table.
Just thank youso much..
Steve Wohl: I just thank you guys too, for the opportunity to partner with you guys. I mean, not, not just me with you three today, but law enforcement with your rural, right. Because that’s what, ultimately, we want to have the tools to help our people. And so, um, just this relationship, [00:43:00] um, has got to expand and, and, and that’s what we’re doing here at the Spokane police department with I F I O C and, um, and Casey’s group.
And so we just appreciate the opportunity to continue to, to build upon that relat.
Casey Jackson: It’s a hundred percent mutual. I can tell you that. Perfect.
Tami Calais: Steve, if people wanted to connect with you in one way or another, what would be the best way to do that.
Steve Wohl: our, through our public relations, um, here at the Spokane police department, uh, uh, director, Julie Humphreys is the, uh, is kind of in charge, um, of that.
But we, we, we deal with, uh, you know, different entities that way. And so by all means. Great. Thanks again, Steve. Yep. My pleasure. All right, take everyone. See, next time.
Tami Calais: Thank you for listening to the communication solution podcast. As always. This podcast is all about you. So if you have questions, thoughts, topic, suggestions, ideas, please send them our way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s [00:44:00] email@example.com for more resources, feel free to check out. IFIOC.com. We also have a public Facebook group called motivational interviewing every day. We have an amazing blog and we have lots of communication tips on our website. In addition to all these amazing resources we do offer online public courses on our website on motivational interviewing and effective communication strategies. Thanks for listening to the communication solution by