Motivational Interviewing

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational Interviewing is one of the best methods to help people identify changes they want to make in their lives and helping them to find the motivation to make these changes. It can help with this process even if they are initially unsure as to what it is in their lives they would like to be different. It is a practical, empathetic, and short-term process that takes into consideration how difficult it is to make life changes. A motivational interviewer encourages clients to talk about their need for change and their own reasons for wanting to change.

How does motivational interviewing (MI) work?

MI uses a guiding style to engage clients, clarify their strengths and aspirations, evoke their own motivations for change and promote autonomy in decision making (Rollnick et al 2008).

MI is based on these assumptions:

  • How we speak to people is likely to be just as important as what we say
  • Being listened to and understood is an important part of the process of change
  • The person who has the problem is the person who has the answer to solving it
  • People only change their behaviour when they feel ready – not when they are told to do so
  • The solutions people find for themselves are the most enduring and effective

There are four general principles of motivational interviewing:

  • R – resist the urge to change an individual’s course of action through didactic means
  • U – understand it’s the individual’s reasons for change, not those of the practitioner, that will allow a person to change their behaviour
  • L – listening is important; the solutions lie within the individual, not the practitioner
  • E – empower the individual to understand that they have the ability to change their behaviour (Rollnick et al 2008)

What makes MI different from other, confrontational approaches?

MI does differ substantially from other more directive interventions. It is not:

  • Arguing with the client who comes with a difficulty and wants to change
  • Offering direct advice or prescribing solutions to the problem without the person’s permission or without actively encouraging the person to make their own choices
  • Using an authoritative/expert stance that leaves the client in a passive role
  • Where the health care professional does most of the talking, or only gives information
  • Imposing a diagnostic label
  • Behaving in a coercive manner
  • Motivational Interviewing is often using in Coaching in Business Environments as well as for Mental Health Difficulties

As a framework, it is a great tool for understanding an individual’s motivation, enabling people to recognise their own patterns, own their personal outcomes and understand the means by which they will achieve those goals.