Training Teen Mothers as Motivational Interviewers: A Feasibility Study

Carolina Yahne, Stephanie Jackson, Kristine Tollestrup


When teen mothers do not graduate from high school, they and their children risk a lifetime of negative outcomes. They face major economic and health difficulties, often repeated across generations.  To address this growing national concern that particularly impacts Hispanic teen mothers, we began by training young nonprofessional peer mentors in motivational interviewing (MI) to provide one-to-one support for teen mothers.  To our knowledge, young non-clinicians have never before been formally evaluated for MI competency.  Our preliminary investigation tested whether teen mothers who had succeeded in graduating could use MI effectively in conversations with their peers who had not yet completed high school.  The six peer mentors were able to attain basic competency in MI. Some of their demonstrated skills went beyond competency to MI proficiency as measured by the MITI coding system.  They also expressed their enthusiasm for the experience.  They fully participated in the study protocols and also maintained the spirit of MI throughout the study. These findings are being used to design a training strategy for the peer mentors that can be used in schools and clinics throughout New Mexico. The question we asked was:  “Can these young mothers, who have succeeded in graduating from high school, competently use MI to support other teen moms to continue their education?”  The answer in this feasibility study was “yes”.


Community-Based Participatory Research; adolescent parenting; peer mentors; competence in motivational interviewing; telephone coaching

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This journal is operated by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh as part of its D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program and is cosponsored by the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers.

ISSN 2160-584X (online)