Cristine Urquhart, MSW, RSW, Co-Founder
Cristine Urquhart, MSW, RSW, co-founder of Change Talk Associates, has trained thousands of helping professionals across Canada in a Motivational Interviewing style of communication, and presented at numerous provincial, national and international conferences. Passionate about supporting helping professionals to collaboratively and compassionately guide change, Cristine translates research to practice, integrating motivational interviewing and trauma-informed approaches. Over the last 12 years she has worked on a variety of knowledge translation and prevention initiatives with the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, BC Ministry of Health (TIP Guide) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (SGPG). Cristine is a member of the International Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (Bulgaria 2007) and a contributing author in the books: Motivational Interviewing in Social Work Practice (Guilford Press, 2011), Becoming Trauma Informed (CAMH, 2012) and Motivational Interviewing in Groups (Guilford Press, 2013).
Based in Vancouver, BC, I train and coach health and social service providers across Canada in evidence-based communication practices to increase engagement and build motivation for health-related change.
I was raised in a small town in British Columbia with a strong sense of justice and responsibility to assist those less fortunate. There was always room at the table for one more person. Advocacy and helping others find their voice was instinctual. I always knew there had to be another way of communicating with people, especially in relation to substance use. I also knew that the work didn’t have to be as hard as we often make it. And then I found Motivational Interviewing…
After graduating from Simon Fraser University in 1998 with a Bachelors degree in Psychology, I took a leap and moved to Toronto where the research was happening and Motivational Interviewing was a common language – at the Addiction Research Foundation (now the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)). While working at Mount Sinai Hospital as a psychiatry research assistant, I was able to stay connected to CAMH over the next five years, transitioning from volunteer, to University of Toronto Master of Social Work Student, to employee within the General Psychiatry program and the Addiction Medicine Clinic. Not only did I gain a solid research and clinical base while in Toronto, I also learned to salsa dance before returning to Vancouver, BC in 2003.
With a strong sense of purpose and focus, I returned to British Columbia to achieve my next goal – bring what I had learned back with me and find a way to share it with others. (I also learned that I do not have the fortitude for windchill and humidity.) Within days I was working at Surrey Memorial Hospital. Over the next two years, I worked with a team to create the Chemical Dependency Resource Team, providing clinical consultation and education for the hospital on addiction and harm reduction. After two years of intense personal and professional development, I came to another crossroads. I decided to move into contract work which would allow me to focus more on teaching, and offering another way of understanding change and working with people. The general response from family and colleagues was “You’re crazy to leave your job!,” AND I knew it was the right decision for me.
Within weeks I was working with the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (BCCEWH) as the Provincial Training Consultant for the ActNow BC Healthy Choices in Pregnancy initiative. Since 2005, I have worked with the BCCEWH on various women’s health projects.
There are no mistakes – through this work I met Frances Jasiura and co-created the vision for Change Talk Associates.
Over the years I have had the privilege of training thousands of health and social service providers across Canada in a Motivational Interviewing style of communication. In 2007, I completed my training in Sofia, Bulgaria to become a member of the International Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT). I have presented at numerous provincial, national and international conferences, including the 1st International Conference in Motivational Interviewing in Interlaken, Switzerland (2008), the International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Conference, Victoria, BC (2007, 2009), the 3rd International Conference in MI in Venice, Italy (2012), and more recently, a plenary presentation at the Early Years Conference in Vancouver (2016). I am also an instructor with UBC Continuing Studies. I am published in the areas of women and substance use, and motivational interviewing, and a contributing author in the books: Motivational Interviewing in Social Work Practice (Guilford Press, 2011), Becoming Trauma Informed (CAMH, 2012) and Motivational Interviewing in Groups (Guilford Press, 2013).
I like each day to be different, sunshine, and any travel in Europe around the Mediterranean (Spain especially). When the sun is out, you will find me enjoying the beauty of Vancouver with my family.
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