GH symposium 2016_1

Motivational Interviewing Overseas

The older members of our group (Jamie, Whit and me) have taken several days to adjust to the time difference and the altitude. The teens of course look like they don’t have any idea what we are talking about when we complain of feeling tired, light headed and short of breath at times. We are at a similar altitude as Denver, it being ‘the mile high city’.  We are all well on this fifth day.

I’m feeling the comfort of coming back to Guatemala having visited in April 2012. Familiar faces, expected changes in the pace, climate, walking conditions (rough cobblestones everywhere), etc. Of course it didn’t keep me from feeling anxious all over again about the talks I had planned for the social workers and psychologists of Common Hope. The first talk was on Resiliency and Positive Psychology. The second talk was on Motivational Interviewing. My major challenge was wondering how it was going to be to have me speaking English while my slides had been translated in to Spanish and then to have an interpreter playing go between. Thankfully, I had gotten excellent advise from Joji Suzuki, MD, from the addiction psychiatry department after practicing at our Motivational Interviewing practice group. He had suggested I try to speak more like a Ted Talk and less like a lecturer. Good advice for a talk in any country!

Continue reading “Motivational Interviewing Overseas”

GH symposium 2016_1

First Week in Guatemala


I have been in Guatemala for about a week with Susan and Emma, this being their second and my third occasion to visit this very interesting country.

Guatemala is the only predominantly Mayan country. These native American people have a very diverse culture with numerous languages and are united by the national language of the Spanish conquerors. Although the culture of the native people in the United States seems to have been nearly decimated, their cousins here in Guatemala have maintained a vibrant culture. Continue reading “First Week in Guatemala”

GH symposium 2016_1

Ready for take off!

Tomorrow morning bright and early we take off for Guatemala! We are two families travelling together; Nora and Emma are sophomores in high school. Anna is a sophomore in college. Jamie Redgrave, MD is an endocrinologist in the Jen Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and also does diabetes care at Harvard University Health Services. My husband (Whit) and me round us off at six. For all but Anna, this is our second trip to Antigua. We became part of a volunteer team at Common Hope ( in April of 2012 and fell in love with the warm and welcoming people, the culture, language and landscape of the area.

Common Hope is a unique organization as the backbone of it’s workforce are it’s 25 social workers. Through home visits they support families in sending their children to school (instead of bringing them to the farms) as well as giving them opportunities to improve their housing (we built a house last year), health care (that’s where Jamie will come in as she provides continuing education to the medical providers) and mental health. Although my work at BWH is very different from theirs, our clients are challenged by many of the same psychosocial issues including domestic violence, substance use, poverty, etc. So we find much common ground.

Since the recession, Common Hope has been forced to make tough economic choices. This has resulted in the social workers and psychologists losing all funding for in-service education. While at Common Hope over the next two weeks I’ll be providing several in-service trainings on topics which include Motivational Interviewing,  Positive Psychology and Resiliency in Care Providers. Each of these will be done in such a way as to promote conversation among all of us so that I am sure to learn as much from them as I bring to the sessions.

Better change the message on my work phone and head home to pack. Adios!

Guatemalan market
Guatemalan market