Motivational Interviewing can transform your practice… and your clients.
Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a recognized best-practice therapeutic approach in psychology to help people realize changes in their lives and has been the subject of over 1,000 peer-reviewed articles. It is a collaborative method of communication aimed at strengthening personal motivation for, and commitment to, a specific goal. This is done by eliciting and exploring an individual’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.
MI is useful with change goals such as choices about tobacco, alcohol or drug use; eating or exercise habits; gambling; vaccination; adjusting your lifestyle after receiving a physical or mental health diagnosis; or just getting “unstuck.”
The spirit of MI to evoke motivation.
Motivational Interviewing is a guided dialogue where the practitioner, embracing the components of the Spirit of MI —compassion, acceptance, partnership and evocation — has the overall goal of calling from the client his/her internal motivation towards change and strengthening it.
The idea of motivation seems abstract when we’re faced with clients who are suffering and seemingly eager to change but struggle to move into action and maintain their efforts towards that change. Faced with these types of situations, the therapist tries, with little success, to convince the client, arguing for, and defending the need for the change. Motivational Interviewing proposes a very different path to change, one that is more efficient and client-centered.
There are three fundamental principles that must be present to be called Motivational Interviewing: expressing empathy, amplifying ambivalence and supporting self-efficacy. Working with clients in a way that is collaborative rather than prescriptive honors the person’s autonomy and self-direction, and is more about evoking than installing. This involves at least a willingness to suspend an authoritarian role, and to explore client capacity rather than incapacity, with a genuine interest in the client’s experience and perspective.
The history of MI.
Motivational Interviewing was originally developed by William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick in the early 1980s in their work with clients who misused alcohol. Today, the application of Motivational Interviewing is no longer limited to treatment for substance misuse but is integrated in many different types of psychotherapeutic treatments and psychosocial rehabilitation, among others. The approach has been the subject of over 1,000 peer-reviewed articles.
The first and simplest of these is a layperson’s definition, focusing on what Motivational Interviewing is for – its purpose: “Motivational interviewing is a collaborative conversation to strengthen a person’s own motivation [for,] and commitment to[,] change.”
A second is a pragmatic practitioner’s definition, and again primarily addresses purpose, but this time from a clinical perspective: Why would I want to learn and use MI: “Motivational interviewing is a person-centered […] method for addressing the common problem of ambivalence about change.”
The third and most detailed is a technical therapeutic definition that addresses both “why” and “how” questions: as William R Miller and Stephen Rollnick state, “Motivational interviewing is a collaborative, goal-oriented method of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is intended to strengthen personal motivation for[,] and commitment to[,] a specific goal by eliciting and exploring an individual’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.”
— William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, October 2010
Workshops for every level of Motivational Interviewing.
dancing gecko training offers your team conferences, workshops and clinical development sessions for beginners through to advanced learners in MI.
Discover our workshopsClinical development sessionsSelect client list