Empowering Behavior Change in Migraine Through Motivational Interviewing: Elizabeth Seng, PhD


The associate professor at Yeshiva University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine discussed the significance of motivational interviewing as a means for providers to engage with their patients and the harmful impact of societal stereotypes on individuals with migraine. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 5 minutes

“We need to make sure that the spaces that we set up for patients with migraine are friendly for them. They need to know that when they walk in, this is a space that's designed to care for them, a place where their needs are not seen as special, strange or overly sensitive. That is what their brain thrives on and that is fine. I think we need to be very thoughtful about how we make our clinics to be a place where migraine stigma doesn't exist.”

Some evidence-based behavioral therapies for migraine include relaxation, biofeedback, and cognitive behavioral therapy although research shows that only about half of patients initiate these treatment approaches as prescribed by their headache specialists.1 One way to combat this is through motivational interviewing (MI), which is widely utilized to help patients with exploring and overcoming ambivalence to enact positive changes in their life. Research notes that MI is an ideal intervention for the patient population in migraine as it is a “person-centered counseling style for addressing the common problem of ambivalence about change.”1

At the 2023 AHS Annual Meeting, held June 15-18, in Austin, Texas, Elizabeth K. Seng, PhD, associate professor, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, gave the Seymour Solomon Award Lecture titled "All Migraine Management is Behavior." Her talk covered all types of behaviors that factor into routine care for managing migraine, including the establishment of a strong communication relationship between patients and providers for better care outcomes.

Recently, Seng sat down with NeurologyLive® to talk about some key topics from her presentation given at the meeting, including how MI differs from traditional directive approaches in patient care. Seng, associate professor in the department of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, also explained why sustained behavior change is often challenging to achieve through medical directives alone. In addition, she shared her perspective on the steps that healthcare professionals can take to create a stigma-free and supportive environment for patients with migraine.

Click here for more coverage of AHS 2023.

1. Minen MT, Sahyoun G, Gopal A, et al. A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial to Assess the Impact of Motivational Interviewing on Initiating Behavioral Therapy for Migraine. Headache. 2020;60(2):441-456. doi:10.1111/head.13738
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