Course Overview

This course will go into depth on the role of Summaries as part of the OARS skills and explain the various ways to build a Summary from a client's statement. In this course, we focus on the three types of Summaries through discuss their specific differences, purpose, and foundation they're built off of. This course also provides you with several examples and opportunities to test your knowledge.

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Credit Hours: MCBAP-R (0.0), MCBAP-S (1.0), Mi-CEC pending - under review, Nursing (0.0)
This module has been designed to conform to the WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility standards.

Topics Covered

Review: Reflections

Reflections are a mirroring statement we provide in response to a client to show them we are listening and to allow them to expand on an idea or correct our understanding of it. We provide examples of reflections with a client and explain the functions of reflections in motivational interviewing (Simple and Complex).  


Summaries help the client to feel more understood. We explain the skill of building good summaries through selecting what to include according to one of the three strategies for which summaries are most often used: Collecting, Linking, and Transitional. 

Collecting Summaries

A Collecting Summary is used to reinforce change talk and evoke further change talk. We provide an example of an effective Collecting Summary with a client. 

Building a Collecting Summary

Summaries are built from previous statements we have heard the client make, and possibly reflected back to them at the time they initially made the statement. We provide you with a clients statement and allow you to choose which parts you would include in a Collecting Summary that focuses on change talk.

Linking Summaries

A Linking Summary is used to invite a client to explore ambivalence about change, or to help the client match resources with needs. This is done though connecting material from earlier in the conversation with current conversational content. We provide an example of an effective Linking Summary with a client.

Building a Linking Summary

When building a Linking Summary we are looking for change talk and elements of the clients speech we may want to invite them to reflect on. We provide you with two examples of summaries and ask you to select the best Linking Summary. We provide you with ur answer and explanation to compare with your own.

Transitional Summaries

A Transitional Summary is used to help transition from one topic or Motivational Interviewing Process to another. These summaries include a “key question” that specifically invites the client to transition. We provide an example of an effective Transitional Summary with a client and also provide you with the opportunity to choose the key question from the example.

Building a Transitional Summary

When building a Transitional Summary we are looking for change talk and commitment talk that indicate the client's readiness to take initial steps towards change. A key question about next steps is given at the end of the summary. We provide you with examples of Summaries and allow you to choose which is the Transitional Summary before we provide the answer and explanation. We also provide you with a statement from a client and allow you to build your own summary and key question.

Using Summaries to Help Recognize and Explore Ambivalence 

It is not uncommon for a client to verbalize what they value about the status quo while they also verbalize reasons for change. A type of linking summary can be a useful way of summarizing change talk and status quo talk; inviting the client to explore their ambivalence about change. We provide a conversation with a client that expresses ambivalence and we allow you to pick statements that you would use in a Linking Summary and compare it to our example. 

Additional Considerations

Please Note : As part of our content licensing agreement, these Motivational Interviewing courses are intended only for those practicing or providing services in Michigan, and only provide CEUs valid to Michigan providers. By enrolling in these courses you certify that you meet this criteria.

Course Objectives

  1. You will recall and receive a thorough review of reflective listening that was the subject of the preceding module.
  2. You will examine three (3) types of summaries - collecting, linking and transitional.
  3. You will know what purpose all three (3) types serve an MI approach
  4. You will examine a “key question” and be able to relate what purpose key questions serve.
  5. You will review and practice demonstrations of each type of summary and you will be asked to evaluate and choose matching an offered summary with which of the 3 types it represents.
  6. You will be able to identify how summaries help staff to recognize and explore ambivalence.

What People Are Saying

It was a positive experience. It was easy to follow and contained a lot of good information.

- Kyle  R.