Activity: Identifying the DARN CAT

The purpose of this activity is to hone the listening skills of true Motivational Interviewing.


Activity overview

As a responsive technique, service providers must listen and identify the state of readiness in order to reply with the Motivational Interviewing (MI) technique that matches the desire for change.

This responsiveness is the technique for evoking autonomous, self-led change.

The purpose of this activity is to identify the DARN CAT:

  • Desire
  • Ability
  • Reason
  • Need
  • Commitment
  • Activation
  • Taking steps

Activity instructions

Label each statement according to its place in the DARN CAT acronym. The first one has been done for you.

  • You know, a few years ago I was able to quit smoking. You think that matters somehow?
    • Answer: Ability
  • I have an intake meeting with Mental Health and Addictions tomorrow at 10. Oh, and I renewed my bus pass.
  • When I look at my 2 older boys, I just know I have to stop drinking for them. They deserve a healthy baby brother or sister.
  • While I was waiting for the public health nurse the other day, I stuffed some pamphlets in my purse. I even phoned the 800 number, you know, about how much I drink and stuff.
  • It’s the last thing I think about and the first thing on my mind in the morning. Sometimes, I think I want to stop drinking as much as I used to crave it. It’s lost its appeal.
  • The last 2 times I drank, the cops were called to my apartment. I’ve gotta stop this.
  • I left a teddy bear at my auntie’s grave last week. I told her I was expecting and promised her that I’d do something about my drinking.
  • I have survived a lot of shit. I am tough and I am stubborn. Doesn’t go over great with my English teacher but I really think I can kick this habit. When I put my mind to it, that’s it.
  • So, I’ve decided to finish college. I met with the registrar and I have all my books. Thinking back to the amount of work it was the first time, I just know I won’t be able to drink like I have been.
  • I turned 31 last week and, as I was sitting there at the bar with my friends, I thought, “God, 31.” It’s really time to grow up. I want this now. I didn’t before, but I do now. I’m 31.
  • When I quit the first time I got a huge f-ing tattoo that says “sober” in Spanish. I feel like such a hypocrite every time I see that thing on my back. I plan to quit and when I do, I’m getting another tattoo.
Modified: 2015-09-09
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