What is motivational interviewing (MI)?

Motivational interviewing or “MI” is a counselling style that is client centred.  It involves a collaborative conversation that is designed to strengthen a client’s commitment and motivation to change. The process helps a client by exploring and discovering the reasons for change, resolving ambivalence, and overcoming resistance while increasing motivation and confidence towards achieving specific goals.

The following are particular characteristics of a motivational interviewing style:

  • Open-ended questions – Questions that require more than a yes or no answer. For example, “What brings you here today?”, “Why do you think you feel this way?”, and “How have you been able to stay sober in the past?”
  • Affirmations – Sincere affirmations can help to build a stronger relationship with a client.
  • Reflective listening – This is a technique where the counsellor repeats back what he thinks the client is saying or feeling to check and deepen his understanding of the client’s thoughts and feelings. A counsellor may reflect, question, or summaries what he has heard from the client.

What are the benefits?

MI provides a variety of benefits because it addresses the natural uncertainty that each of us feels when it comes to making behavioural changes.

MI can help clients to:

  • Lose weight; stop or reduce drug, alcohol or tobacco use; or manage mental or physical illness symptoms.
  • Understand how to develop internal motivation for change, rather than being motivated only by outside influences such as family, friends or doctors.
  • Examine and resolve feelings of uncertainty concerning the change
  • Create and begin a manageable plan for the change process
  • Increase confidence by paying attention to the importance of even the smallest changes
  • Make commitment to change stronger

What are the issues that can be addressed by MI?

MI has proven to be particularly effective for substance abuse disorders. Often those with addictive tendencies have a difficult time correlating in-the-moment decision making, like having a drink, with long-term consequences like losing their job or severe long-term health outcomes related to substance use. MI helps lead a client to see these conflicting goals and actions and create a self-directed plan to make a change.

Other issues that MI has shown to be particularly helpful with include:

You can arrange a free private and confidential 15 telephone consultation via our online calendar today. The consultation will help you decide if this is the right path for you.