Helping clients feel welcome: Principles of adapting treatment cross-culturally

Kamilla L. Venner, Sarah W. Feldstein, Nadine Tafoya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Empirically supported interventions (ESIs) for treating substance problems have seldom been made available to or tested with minority populations. Dissemination of ESIs may help reduce the disproportionate health disparities that exist. However, ESIs may require some adaptation to be effective with minority populations. One ESI, motivational interviewing (MI), appears to be particularly culturally congruent for Native American communities. We worked with Native American community members and treatment providers to adapt MI for Native communities. Reflecting their feedback and suggested amendments, we created and disseminated an intervention manual to improve the accessibility of MI within Native communities. To help guide practitioners working with Native American clients, we used focus-group methodology to explore communication patterns for negotiating change. Native American treatment providers expressed comfort with and enthusiasm for integrating MI into their current practices. Recommendations for adaptations ranged from simple to complex changes. The unique value and challenges of collaboration between academic and community members are presented from each author's perspective. This culturally adapted MI manual will likely improve the accessibility and adoption ofMI practices as well as encourage controlled, clinical trials with Native communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-30
Number of pages20
JournalAlcoholism Treatment Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 17 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adapt motivational interviewing
  • Native American
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Traditional research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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