Humphrey Fellowship Has Long-Lasting and Far-Reaching Impact in India

Dr. Lalchhanhima Ralte, 2019–2020 Humphrey fellow and counselors in northeastern India

Providing effective treatment service for substance use disorders (SUD) to people living in rural areas remains an enormous challenge. Dr. Lalchhanhima Ralte, a 2019–2020 Humphrey fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), is doing just that by providing training on motivational interviewing for counselors in the northeastern state of Mizoram in India. Mizoram is one of the least populated regions of India with a high concentration of tribal people. 

Dr. Ralte organized a three-day workshop on motivational interviewing that was attended by counselors from 21 alcohol and other drug treatment and rehabilitation centers from all over the state. The workshop was the continuation of one of the two projects he pursued while a Humphrey fellow at VCU. Dr. Ralte noted that the fellowship experience changed not only his life but continues to impact his work and the way the counselors he trained will approach their clients.

Participants provided highly appreciative feedback on the workshop and the approach of motivational interviewing for people with SUD. “I feel motivational interviewing restores dignity in a person who otherwise has no dignity left due to SUD,” one participant remarked. Other participants commented, “Now I understand the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation … and the importance of intrinsic motivation for making change …,” and, “I realize how I might be indirectly shaming my clients; I need to change my style of counseling.” This example illustrates the far-reaching impact the Humphrey fellowship experience can still have years later.