Using motivational interviewing in your practice

Professional Development
Using motivational interviewing in your practice

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational Interviewing was developed by clinical psychologists William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick in the early 1980s, and since there have been more than 200 randomized clinical trials demonstrating its effectiveness (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). It was originally developed as a technique to address addiction, but it has since evolved for application for a variety of presenting concerns. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is designed to engage intrinsic motivation within the client to facilitate change (Miller & Rollnick, 2013).

The authors of this method describe it as “a collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person’s own motivation and commitment to change” (Miller & Rollnick, 2013, p.12).

Though MI is goal-oriented and client-centered, it is more directive than most client-centered approaches. MI is designed to help clients reflect on desired change and to resolve ambivalence.

Clients may present with varying levels of preparedness and readiness for change. We may have had experiences with clients with problematic or harmful behaviors, who may be able to recognize the deleterious effects of behaviors, but are not yet ready to change.

Components of Motivational Interviewing

In short, motivational interviewing is a conversation about change. When people are considering a change, they often express ambivalence. Motivational Interviewing directs attention towards this ambivalence to help an individual identify obstacles to change and build his/her willingness to take steps towards a desired change.

Change Talk: Statements that favor change

Sustain Talk: Statements that favor not changing

One goal of MI is to encourage the “change talk” side of ambivalence.

Questions to ask when talking about change:

  • How would you want to make this change?
  • How might you go about it in order to succeed?
  • What are the three best reasons for you to do it?
  • How important is it for you to make this change and why?

Principles of Motivational Interviewing

  • Non-judgmental: the practitioner does not judge the patient’s behaviors or levels of readiness for change.
  • Non-confrontational: motivational interviewing relies on questioning and reflection to elicit and facilitate change talk from the client

Reference and Resource

Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational interviewing: Helping people change., 3rd edition. New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.