Welcome to today’s episode of The Communication Solution podcast with Casey Jackson, John Gilbert, and Danielle Cantin. We love talking about Motivational Interviewing and improving outcomes for individuals, organizations, and the communities that they serve. Today we are talking about a tragedy in Idaho, current events focusing on the unfortunate murders in Idaho, at the University of Idaho, through the lens of motivational Interviewing.
In this episode tragedy in Idaho through the lens of Motivational Interviewing, we discuss:
- Casey’s consulting with the hostage negotiations team on a monthly basis
- The scenario of what happened at the University of Idaho
- The phenomenal podcast with Lieutenant Steve Wall from the Spokane Police Department
- Difficulties of finding a jury in those situations
- Stress, frustration, exhaustion, and anger
- The human brain and the choices that it makes
- Casey’s work doing substance use treatment in state and federal prisons
- Difference between behavior and intention
- Ambivalence and remorse
- Social conscience
- How to get better outcomes
- Law enforcement, MI and de-escalation
- Individual mindsets
- Grief and empathy
- Stress and trauma
- Emotions and control
- And so much more!
This is part one of a two-part podcast. We hope you’ll join us for the second portion. Thank you for listening to the Communication Solution Podcast with Casey Jackson and John Gilbert. As always, this podcast is about empowering you on your journey to change the world. So if you have questions, suggestions, or ideas, send them our way at firstname.lastname@example.org, that’s CASEY@IFIOC.COM. For more information or to schedule a training visit IFIOC.com until our next Communication Solution podcast keeps changing the world.
Want a transcript? See below!
Hello and welcome to the Communication Solution Podcast with Casey Jackson and John Gilbert. I’m your host Danielle Cantin. We love to talk about communication. We love to talk about solutions, and we love to talk about providing measurable results for individuals, organizations. And the communities they serve. Welcome to the communication solution that will change your world.
Hi, and welcome to the Communications Solutions Podcast with Casey Jackson and John Gilbert. I’m your host Danielle, and we actually wanna take a look at motivational interviewing through. Through a lens of current events. So often as a newbie to motivational interviewing, I find myself applying it to everything in business, in mental health, in every area of life. And of course, what comes to mind is current events, things that are in the news, things that are top of mind, creating conversations out there in the world and, and concern. So I recently heard, in terms of a current event about, Someone reaching out to you, Casey, and you’ve been hired to consult with the hostage negotiation team and I was wondering if you’d be willing to dive in and talk a bit through, talk a bit about the unfortunate murders in Idaho, at the University of Idaho and what’s happening there, and kind of talk to us about that situation through the lens of motivational Interviewing.
It’s, I mean, it’s just such a complex concept. So yeah, I think it’s fairly fresh in my mind for multiple reasons. You know, I just was asked to join this monthly, you know, be consulting with,hostage negotiations team on a monthly basis. So my brain has been very oriented to that as I immerse my myself in there further and further into that reality.
and they bring me to look at situations from a motivational perspective. So like for any of you that listened to the podcast, which I think was a phenomenal podcast, we ended up doing a two-parter with, Lieutenant, Lieutenant Steve Wall, from the Spokane Police Department. And I, there’s so much substance there in that conversation that gives me so many thoughts when I, when I look at the scenario of tragedy in Idaho and you.
I was talking about this. So many people were just saying that are, are really immersed in that story and really following it, you know, day by day following it, saying how they’re gonna have a really hard time finding a jury. Because anytime something hits national news, then opinions just are pouring out.
And it’s really hard to find a jury in those situations. And when I’m looking from a motivational perspective, like just human brain perspective, you know, so my brain is so immersed in mi, is so immersed in looking at human behavior. I always look at is, is there ambivalence in the situation for people that are involved?
I think this is part of it as well too, that there’s a confirmation bias that John loves to talk about, confirmation bias, that when we hear about these horrific. Horrific situations that cause communities, not just community in Idaho, not just in Moscow, Idaho, but all over the country, people are locking their doors again and and have more fear when they’re walking their dogs because of these incidences.
And so when you look at is the chronic stress that we’re under normally, That I, I, I just keep thinking post covid stress, covid stress, post covid. Stress pandemic is our brains are just very taxed, and as they’re very taxed with stress, we tend to get more reactive and less logical in the way we produce things.
We just get very, we just get exhausted, and the more exhausted we get, the more primal we get. So we just get angry really quick. We get emotional really quick. We get frustrated really quick, and I think I have such an acknowledgement of my humanness around that, but I think my fascination about where the human brain is, about choices that it makes and behaviors that happen is equally as fascinating to me.
And I think that’s the way that I’ve tracked aspects of, the, tragedy in Idaho. And so just with the little pieces that have come out about, you know, the, about the individual who allegedly committed these murders. The thing I always think of is, does ambivalence exist within the brain?
Did they feel two ways about the decisions as they were planning as they’re moving through this? And I equated to an extent with the years that I worked in the prison system, you know, I, I was worked in state prison and federal prison doing substance use treatment, you know, chemical dependency work and mental health work with, people who, who were incarcerated.
And so I, I really started to learn the difference between the behavior and the intention behind the behavior. And for me, you know, kind of teeing this up, what I look at is the difference between people that have no remorse and have remorse. And I can tell you, having worked in state and federal prison, I would say over 80% of the people have remorse for their crime.
If you get past the defensiveness and getting past the defensiveness is what? , what are the core constructs in motivational interviewing is how do you get past that resistance in that discord? The blaming outside the self, because everybody that gets in these complex situations, whether by, you know, what seems like choice, and has definitely a level to do with choice or feels like it’s more reactive, are knee jerk reactions, is to blame outside of ourself where it gets a little spookier for me.
is when you talk to individuals that have zero remorse, and when there’s zero remorse, that means there’s zero ambivalence. And when there’s zero ambivalence, it means motivationally doesn’t work. And when behavior change doesn’t work, we always tell people, then you kind of revert back to a compliance based model.
So it’s the same thing that I look at because I think there’s, so, there’s not massive amounts of information out, and I know there’s new information kind of being released daily, about, kind of the investigation and what they know. . But when you’re thinking about things that are premeditated, it doesn’t necessarily mean that ambivalence points didn’t exist at points during the, you know, the planning process.
And so this was something that was not a reaction because there was a fight in a bar and somebody pulls a knife or a gun, you know, this was something that was planned. There was a, a premeditation to how this unfolded. And I think what’s so fascinating to me is looking at how the brain. Worked through the ambivalence in ways that, is it really aligning with its core values or is it not aligning with its core values?
And for me, this is also, you know, having so many, you know, decades working in behavioral health and mental health. Is, is there an absence of conscience? Which is where you get into sociopathy, where people that are, you know, we see a psychopathic or sociopathic in old school terms versus somebody that just doesn’t have a social conscience, which is kinda the same construct within the person.
They don’t feel two ways about the decision. They’re, their way, they’re looking at is how to not get caught, but it’s more that the system is wrong and the individuals are wrong. And if you peel back all the layers, they genuinely don’t feel like what they’re doing is wrong. There are people. , that’s the way that they think, but that’s the way that their, their brains operate from.
I think that’s an extremely slim slice of the population. I think of when you look at some of the mass shootings and when I’ve looked at some of the mindset behind people in the mass shootings, the irony is they actually have quite a bit of ambivalence. They have a lot of righteousness, they have a lot of confirmation bias, but they believe they’re doing the right thing based on their values.
But if you peeled back and held a mirror up to it, you’re gonna get a lot of internal conflict. You’re gonna get a lot of, yeah. But yeah. But yeah. But yeah, but which means that ambivalence exists within the brain. And this is really hard to talk about because we’re talking about heinous crimes. . So it’s not about justifying, it’s not about right or wrong from my perspective.
Cause I can get into all that stuff with my own biases. But when I look through that motivational lens, what I’m looking at is when I look at the human brain, does ambivalence exist somewhere in the brain based on that behavior and based on that individual’s values. So with the U of I thing, I think the thing, the preliminary information that that gives you, that unsettling feeling in your stomach is when something’s so premeditate.
if it was that premeditated and so calculated, how do they overcome those moments of ambivalence to make those decisions? This, this is what’s interesting for me because one of the last, situations I consulted on was with an individual woman who had a, a knife to her own throat and didn’t want people to come closer.
And those are situations where I just feel like, oh wow. This is why I wanna help people get more skilled at motivational interviewing because ambivalence still exists within that. . So for an individual who has a knife to their own throat or a gun to their own head or in their own mouth, I’m always thinking there is some modicum ambivalence that still exists because they’re still alive at this moment in time.
So there has to be ambivalence somewhere in their brain. And then I think with the situation in Idaho is, you know, with that, with those murders, Could there have been things that diverted the behavior or would’ve just stalled that behavior to another population at a different point in time from the same individual.
So it’s more that the interventions would’ve diverted the timing or the targets, but it wouldn’t have diverted the behavior because the behavior is going to happen one way or the other. And I think those are the things that just, again, from a. Human brain understanding perspective that fascinate me the most.
So I’ll just stop here and just cuz these are, these are all my kind of thought process and when I’m looking at some of these really extremely emotional, social complex issues and then trying to use any form of an MI filter to, to overlay that and your effort when you’re looking at that, Casey is, and obviously the teams that are looking at it, is really to understand.
in a way go back in time and say, for the benefit of the future and future individuals, is there something that motivational interviewing could have done to help, create a different outcome? Yes, exactly. And for me, I mean, part of the reason that, you know, it’s so intriguing for me to be on the, you know, consulting with these teams is.
Can we use communication more effectively to get to a better outcome? Can we, can we be so focused and skilled in our communication that we can deescalate situations more effectively than what traditionally has been used for hostage negotiations and, and those types of trained approaches? , and I think that’s where I just, you know, have such a, a deep appreciation for law enforcement who try to, to try to edge their way into evidence-based practices because it is a complete cultural departure from the mindset and the skillset they’ve historically been trained in.
I think that those are some of the most memorable moments of training that I’ve been through where you’ve actually shared. Footage,police camera footage, of how officers implementing motivational interviewing are able to deescalate, are able to get, I believe it was a, a suicide, A jumper off of the bridge.
Yes. In, was it eight minutes? Yeah, eight minutes. Under eight minutes. It’s just remark. That’s, you know, and a lot of the, you know, partially as people are trying to get more skilled, especially in law enforcement as they, you know, those that choose to get more skilled at this, it is such a departure, like I said, from what their normal skillset is.
But you can see the ones that submit the audio, the, that body cam footage to me to get coded and coaching on. , as they get measurably skilled at it, their interventions become so much more efficient and so much more effective in a shorter period of time. And, and the cultural shift I think that’s so complex is so often what I hear from law enforcement is, yeah, this is a great skill.
We’ll use it after we’ve diffused the situation. So when they’re in the back of our car, that’s when we’ll use motivational interviewing. And at first glance, it makes sense why a brain would think that way. But what I continue to try to, to expand the thinking around is, can you use your language to deescalate a situation traditional?
And this was, this triggers my writing, reflect, so I was asked to be on this one, this subcommittee that was working on, looking at training around deescalation techniques and it. Mind boggling to me on as a, as a social worker, was mind boggling to me that the concept of deescalation in law enforcement historically is, I’m gonna use a taser and not a gun.
That’s how I’m gonna deescalate the situation. And I think when you look from a civilian perspective, That’s better, but that’s not deescalation, that’s still use of force. That still seems violent. And is there something you do that’s less use of force to do that? And I think from a public perspective, it’s well deescalation.
When I was in this when this one officer was saying, well, yeah, deescalation is that we’re not gonna shoot him in the face with a gun. We’re gonna shoot him with taser instead. That’s deescalation. And I said, oh, that’s not public perspective on deescalation. He goes, well, what do you think deescalation is?
I said, My brain’s pretty simple. So I go straight to an elevator and I think to deescalate is to bring from up to down, you know, and to do that in a smooth transition to deescalate that from being I charged to low charge situation, not how do I use a different form of violence to get this situation resolved.
That doesn’t, from, I think from a public perspective, deescalation is to bring it down, not to use a less aggressive means of force, but that’s my bias as a biased civilian. There’s other civilians that think, shoot. , you know, depending on what the situation is. So I think there is just different perspectives on different aspects of that.
What I’ve been really leaning into in situations like this, again, based on what we know about data, is you can actually use your language to bring the situation down and you may not need to use force. If you can use language to reduce that resistance and disc. and explore the ambivalence efficiently and effectively.
So some of those best videos we show in trainings that are law enforcement based in real time are the ones that, the ones that are most effective. The longest one we have is 11 minutes. We’ve got two at eight and a half minutes, one at 11 minutes where it’s deescalated and, and the, even the one that was 11 minutes long, that was just how long the interaction took, the deescalation happened.
and the ambivalence was, you know, revealed or there, he was able to explore the ambivalence within, you know, five to six minutes. With a 14 year old, you know, female who’s suicidal. So it just, it, what for me is, is when you understand the evidence-based side of it and you understand the measurable technique behind it and the mindset behind it, and we can teach that, and we can measure that and give feedback, you’re gonna see better.
Where it gets complex is when we don’t know the whole situation. One of the things I remember with Steve Wallen, so this is what I think of when I look at the, the university, the murders in Uni, university of Idaho, is that I remember when, Lieutenant Wall and I were talking about this, he was talking about his, the hardest part for him when he was heading, the SWAT team is there are people that wake up in the morning.
Knowing they’re having their last cup of coffee and their last cigarette as they’re picking up the gun to head outta the house. He said, that’s not a situation where you’re gonna be using motivational ring. He said, I can’t imagine that, that the outcome is predetermined in their brain and there’s, it’s so locked in By the time they’re had their last cigarette and last coffee and they’re going out there with their gun.
He goes, I just can’t imagine how motivational we work in those situations. That’s not where my brain. . But short of that, when somebody has a gun in their mouth or a gun in somebody else’s mouth and they’re screaming and yelling, helping u you know, law enforcement understand ambivalence exists in those situations, and we can use linguistics to potentially have a better outcome From that perspective, it, it ties into everything we talk about with the fixing reflex of the writing reflex is everything.
I don’t care if you’re law enforcement, I don’t care if you’re, you know, a public watching it happened. Your writing reflexes. We just want this situation taken care of. We just want everybody safe. We want everybody secure. How, how do you argue? , how do you argue with that writing reflex? It’s hard to argue past that writing reflex of just get ’em off the bridge.
I don’t care what it takes, just get ’em off the bridge. And this is why we distinguish so much in our trainings, the difference between compliance methods and behavior change methods. So you can use compliance methods, you can tase somebody and, and try to get them off the bridge. You can somebody, you can shoot somebody, you can, you can, you know, you can stop the situation that way.
And, and I don’t, I don’t argue against those ways. What I try to introduce instead is, do you wanna take a behavior change approach or a compliance approach? Those are just completely different mindsets and completely different skill sets. This is what I wrap it back around then to the, you know, in hindsight on the, on the univer, the murders at University of Idaho, in terms of not knowing of enough about the individual’s mindset other than even with deterrence along the way, it was something that he still executed, allegedly.
So those are the parts of it that is just fascinating to me in terms of does ambivalence exist within that brain and how does that behavior align with their deeper values? And so I think there’s just so many theories out there right now about why he may have done it if he did it. And I think that’s what’s gonna be fascinating is more information’s uncovered.
My brain is always gonna be looking at it from, did ambivalence exist in his brain At any point in. , where was that coming from and what is he trying to generate, you know, and how does this align with who he perceives himself to be? So is it, is it potentially another podcast to talk now about the families of the victims?
The, in a lens of motivational interviewing is, as you look at the grief and. Just the horror of it all. Like is there anything listeners can walk away with that might help them from that perspective? It’s interesting because the first reaction I have when you say that is , when I’m so far in the law enforcement brain and in that level of empathy for that reality, and my brain’s so far there, it’s almost like I have this.
Like I start to feel emotional in working with the families because, and that’s ironically my, that would be my wheelhouse, is working with the families because, you know, with, you know, just understanding the behavioral health and mental health side of things and emotional health so well, it is fascinating when you go to deep empathy on both sides of equations, how it pulls you into neutrality differently, which makes it almost feel different for people that you’re not as sympathetic or compass.
when that’s not what’s going on necessarily. So what I do think is that when these tragedies occur, people are gonna go through a normal grieving process. Grieving has nothing to do with behavior change. So in some ways, am I motivational interviewing as a skillset? This is one of the times that you know, you’re gonna keep your Swiss Army knife in your pocket, potentially.
You can still be high in empathy and engagement, but the net effect is not to help them resolve ambivalence in that moment in time. That net effect in the moment is how do we help people? For horrific, significant loss of life. So, and if it was at a place where I wanna work past this, then I think that’s where things like motivationally can be extremely effective.
As well as other techniques, as far as that are, that are therapeutic and healing techniques. My orientation of working with so many different theories and techniques is I just looked at the EF efficacy of how can people resolve all the stress and trauma within themselves. in a way that a year down the road, five years down the road, 10, 20 years down the road, they look back and they feel like it was healed in a healthy way that aligned with who they are.
And that’s, that’s where my obsession leans into the motivation being way of, of operating with people. But really distinguishing between is this a behavior change based conversation or is this a different form of conversation? So the a grieving piece of it, I think of just the nature of motivation with high empathy, accurate empathy can be effective, but mi as a technique is really designed more for behavior change and working through ambivalence.
There’s so much that Casey, you’re, you’re bringing up from the, you know, perspective that Danielle just brought up of like what it would be like to go through losing someone that you’re really close with in your life. A child, a partner. From that. I mean, that’s just so emotional. Yes. That so devastating.
I could on, yeah. I mean, I could only imagine the level of, of devastation. And then you, on the flip side, think of the perspective of the officers that you’ve worked with significantly more than I have, but the little bit I’ve, I’ve got to. It’s just to put yourself in an environment that. So, traditionally high stress and lots of constant, extreme situations, and then a culture that’s trying to.
Cope with that through various kinds of humor or whatever it’s gonna be that tries to get through that, and then the person on the other receiving and is trying to cope through grief or something. And it would just be so hard to have empathy for each other’s perspective when there’s so much emotion built up.
Right. I think there is something to be said about whoever is. Paid professional in this case. In this case, it happens to be the, the officers that there’s something to be said for them being the more mindful people with how they’re using their mi, hence why they are hiring you to come on their team. I do think, Danielle, there are certain components in personal life to be mindful of like, how much am I, you know, allowing my emotions to control me and how much.
Being choice driven with this being what I really want. And I could only imagine how difficult that would be if you lost someone. But I do feel there is a place for potentially helping people with MI in their own personal development, like we’ll talk about in a, in a upcoming podcast. But in relation to what happened, Casey, there’s so much around the people that have been affected on one side and the other side.
I’m wondering for you, , when you’re thinking about this perspective of mi, where’s the, where do you go with this from here? Is it to prevent future things? You know, how do we digest what has happened from multiple perspectives in a way that brings us, you know, more compassionately towards pro-social behaviors and pro-social?
Yeah, I think there’s multiple, you know, I think what I, where my mindset is going into it is there’s two things, is what I was directly asked for, which is, you know, can you consult on some of these To the point in this last meeting that we just had, that they’re going to start to dial me in, like they’re gonna hit a button, I’ll pick up my phone and I’m gonna be listening to some of these hostile negotiations situations in real.
And, and, and, and like I’m being extremely clear about what I can listen for is where’s the empathy? Where’s the sustained talk? Where’s the potential for change talk? Where are the deeper values to draw from, and how might you frame it? Because I’m not an expert in hostage negotiations, I’m an expert in communication around behavior change or to assess where, where ambivalence resides.
I think the secondary thing that I’m looking at is just such a hyperawareness of how do you help people develop this skillset who are going through their own secondary trauma because of dealing with this every day. You know, I think of how many people are obsessed watching CSI and all the true crime.
You know, it’s just such a, it’s just pervasive. People are obsessed with watching those kind of things. Special Victims Unit and all these different shows out there. They’re just high adrenaline, high pressure murders, you know? and, and it stresses people out when they’re watching ’em, and sometimes they dwell on ’em at night and and can’t sleep After watching some of those episodes, it is wildly different to hear the gunshot next to your head and watch somebody drop dead next to you, especially if it’s your partner or somebody in your community and you’re cleaning up the body and trying to get things taken care of and get the paperwork done.
to do that chronically in real time is incomprehensible for most people. So, and in, in having some awareness around trauma and stress, that’s kinda my secondary of how do you help people learn something that will ultimately help on some levels with their skillset. But on the flip side, it’s almost antithetical to what they’re trained to do, which is to be emotionally detached because the amount of trauma that, that you see and hear and witness on a day-to-day basis is.
The human body is not set up and the human brain is not set up to have that much over time without it doing damage. So there’s just a lot of secondary trauma. So I think the, the two things I think of John, actually in my role is what I’m hired for is to be able to listen to conversation and continue to coach, these very skilled officers and to listen for language differently.
And they’re already seen even after the first few times, they’re already starting. Hear differently. They’re looking, looking at situations differently and they realize their skill is not where they like it to be in relationship to motivationally, not into handling the situations. But then that secondary that, what I always think of in teaching people motivational interviewing is that as a professional, I hope the secondary benefit is they’re gonna feel healthier and happier as human beings.
in the way that they’re handling some of these situations. Just like whether it’s, you know, a CPS worker or a mental health worker or a dietician. You know, it’s just like, they just feel like I did my job with a level of skill that I’m increasing informed choice on the receiving end of this communication.
And I think when you look from a law enforcement perspective, if when indicated you can increase informed choice and keep resistance to a minimum and hopefully get to the best possible outcome that keeps that individual, the community and the officers safe. I, I think that’s what people are looking for, kind of a best case scenario.
So I think this is, it’s just a new horizon in,law enforcement with motivational. I mean, I’ve been doing it for, you know, five or six years now, but it still is such a new construct in law enforcement, to do it on this level in real time as just it, I, it is cutting edge. I mean, it just, it’s not the norm by any stretch of the imagination. It’s extremely rare actually.
This is been, part one of a two-part podcast. We hope you’ll join us for the second portion. Thank you for listening to the Communication Solution Podcast with Casey Jackson and John Gilbert. As always, this podcast is about empowering you on your journey to change the world. So if you have questions, suggestions, or ideas, send them our way at email@example.com, that’s CASEY@IFIOC.COM. For more information or to schedule a training visit IFIOC.com until our next Communication Solution podcast keeps changing the world.