is a counseling method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior. It is a practical, empathetic, and short-term process that takes into consideration how difficult it is to make life changes.
When It's Used
Motivational interviewing is often used to address addiction and the management of physical health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. This intervention helps people become motivated to change the behaviors that are preventing them from making healthier choices. It can also prepare individuals for further, more specific types of therapies. Research has shown that this intervention works well with individuals who start off unmotivated or unprepared for change. It is less useful for those who are already motivated to change. Motivational interviewing is also appropriate for people who are angry or hostile. They may not be ready to commit to change, but motivational interviewing can help them move through the emotional stages of change necessary to find their motivation.
How It Works
Motivational interviewing evolved from Carl Roger’s person-centered, or client-centered, approach to counseling and therapy, as a method to help people commit to the difficult process of change. The process is twofold. The first goal is to increase the person’s motivation and the second is for the person to make the commitment to change. As opposed to simply stating a need or desire to change, hearing themselves express a commitment out loud has been shown to help improve a client’s ability to actually make those changes. The role of the therapist is more about listening than intervening. Motivational interviewing is often combined or followed up with other interventions, such as cognitive therapy, support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and stress management training.