Meet Shawn Smith

Shawn Smith

Certified MI Trainer and MINT Member


Shawn Smith is a Certified MI Trainer and member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT). The MINT is an international organization of trainers of Motivational Interviewing (MI), whose mission is to promote good practice in the use, research, and training of Motivational Interviewing and represents 35 countries and more than 20 different languages. Shawn has served the MINT Trainer Certification Committee, Inclusivity + Diversity Workgroup, and served as a mentor to new MINT members and initiated a quarterly meeting of the Wisconsin MINT members, which has given birth to an annual statewide conference on MI. Shawn has trained MI to thousands of professionals since 2009, including those serving in education, health care, behavioral health, workforce development, education, and the criminal justice system. He has delivered MI training to the following role types in the identified contexts:

  • Service Context / Role Types
  • AODA Treatment / Clinicians, Peer Specialists
  • Criminal Justice / Juvenile Probation Officers, Adult Probation Officers, Support Staff, Leadership, Attorneys, Client Service Specialists, Judges
  • Health Care / Clinicians, Health Care Providers
  • Homelessness / Case Managers, Social Workers
  • Women’s Support / Case Managers, Social Workers
  • Foster Care Youth / Leadership, Social Workers, Trainers, Wraparound Care Coordinators
  • Workforce Development / Employment Specialists
  • Family Therapy / Therapists
  • Alternative Education / Case Managers, Therapists, Line Staff, Educators, Youth Mentors
  • Mental Health + Disability / Clinicians, Nurses, Case Managers
  • Community Treatment / Clinicians, Social Workers
  • Trauma Incidents / Firemen + Women, First Responders, Peer Support Specialists
  • Domestic Terrorism + Targeted Violence / Therapists, Case Managers, Volunteers

Shawn is trained in the Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity (MITI) Coaching System, which is broadly used to measure fidelity in research + evaluation efforts and MI implementations of varying sizes. Shawn utilizes the MITI to support the development of MI Champions in the entities he trains to ensure the sustainability of MI implementations. Shawn is also the primary author of 20 workbooks for Build Motivation’s web-based course on MI and has worked with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections to develop contextual video demonstrations of MI. He also trains others in the application of the MITI.


In addition to training Trauma-Informed Awareness + Team Wellness, he was the primary author of a Trauma-Informed Care implementation plan for a nonprofit of 300 employees. He holds a certificate in Trauma Counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Helen Bader School of Social Work. He is an early adopter of the Instinctual Trauma Response + Resolution method for healing trauma.


Shawn is a practitioner and coach of mindfulness practices. He generated an opportunity for 20 service professionals, including himself, to be trained facilitators in Growing Mind’s Mindfulness curriculum.


Shawn was trained by the originator of Cultural Humility, Dr. Melanie Tervalon, and initiated the first Cultural Humility trainer-of-trainers in Wisconsin. Dr. Tervalon has invited Shawn to contribute to her forthcoming book. He is a member of the Milwaukee-based community of practice for Cultural Humility trainers.


Since 2012, Shawn has been a regular presenter at regional and national conferences. Conference presentations have included:

  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Healing-Focused Care: Integration of Motivational Interviewing, Trauma-Informed Care, Cultural Humility + Reflective Supervision
  • Trauma Awareness
  • Wellness for Teams
  • Motivational Interviewing + Trauma-Informed Care
  • Motivational Interviewing + Cultural Humility
  • Reflective Supervision

Shawn has served youth, adults, and families as a direct service provider, manager, and administrator since 1995. He has had the privilege of working with youth at Oregon’s Jasper Mountain Center as a substance abuse counselor for Vermont’s Clara Martin Center and in various leadership roles from 2002 – 2015 with Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Community Services (WCS). Before becoming the Administrator of Training & Quality Assurance, he led WCS’ Pretrial Units (AODA, OWI, FTA, and Release Planning), Project Excel – an adolescent day treatment program, and a Wiser Choice screening unit for individuals returning to the community from long-term prison stays.

Shawn sat on the WI State Trauma-Informed Care Advisory Committee, the WI State Trauma-Informed Care Tool-Kit Workgroup, was a core team member for the Fostering Futures initiative for the Harambee Community – focused on creating Trauma-Informed awareness in Milwaukee’s Harambee community, and served as a community services advisor to the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Violence Prevention Initiative Research and Evaluation Team.

In 2015, he joined with Alma Center, an innovative Milwaukee based program that utilizes a trauma-informed approach to battering intervention, to co-found the Alma Institute. Since 2015, he has also been a trainer + coach of Motivational Interviewing for Build Motivation’s Center for Strength-Based Strategies. In 2019, he founded Share Training to continue to expand the advancement of Healing-Focused Care. Healing-Focused Care is a foundational, trauma-informed service delivery model that integrates Trauma-Informed Care, Cultural Humility, Motivational Interviewing, Wellness for Teams, and Reflective Supervision.


“The purpose of training is to give learners an experience they then wish to replicate with those they serve. Sharing “why” in balance with “how” one applies Motivational Interviewing in your service context and the role is a critical feature of my training design. My “Why” for MI is:  I believe trauma is at the core of all ills. I believe MI guides how to be with trauma survivors healing their wounds. How to listen, develop self-awareness, raise consciousness, and put the served person in charge of their healing. This is important to me because I believe it is my purpose and my role in support of the healing and sustainability of our planet.

I share MI from a trauma-informed perspective. My primary interest in training is to create cultures of service that realize a trauma-informed service environment. Since 2009, I have shared MI with thousands of professionals in health care, criminal justice, education, workforce development, behavioral health, and addictions.

Since that time, I have developed a foundational service approach; HealingFocused Care, that integrates MI with Cultural Humility, Trauma-Informed Care, Team Wellness, and Reflective Supervision. Service providers in my training have a variety of educational backgrounds and service roles (youth mentors, teachers, security, public defenders, clinicians, doctors …), which I find enriches everyone’s experience. I provide tailored training to community-based organizations and large systems with an implementation mindset. I provide guidance on implementations to achieve fidelity – including ongoing support, the establishment of peer learning groups, Train-the-Coach, Train-the-Trainer, and coaching utilizing the most recent version of the MITI (Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity). My approach to MI Coaching is founded on Deliberate Practice, as defined by Daryl Chow and Scott Miller.  My goal is to empower entities and individuals to sustain their learning beyond the training room.  My clients include statewide and county systems, large + small nonprofits, schools, health care entities, and workforce development programs. My experience as a direct service provider, manager, and agency administrator allows me to be responsive to the realities of learning MI while still getting the work done.


“I share what I wish I would have known when I was leading pretrial programs, an alternative school and day treatment program for teens, doing psych-social screens for folks returning from long-term prison stays to the community, and working with four to twelve years out on the side of a mountain in Oregon where they “Heal the Hurt.” Every time we share all or part of our Healing-Focused Care model with a human services team working in corrections, behavioral health, workforce development, or education, I am validated by our learners and leaders’ response. It’s helpful, and it works.”