Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational Interviewing is a goal-oriented approach used to strengthen the motivation for and commitment to change. It recognizes that individuals seeking help vary in their readiness to change. Some people, for instance, may be unclear on whether they want to change. Others may know they want to make a change but have not yet taken action or don’t know how to start.

Some may have taken action towards change but have struggled to be successful or faced many difficulties along the way.

In Motivational Interviewing, one of the main goals is to identify, examine, and work through uncertainty about change. In order to do so, the approach is based on three important principles:

  • Collaboration.

Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative approach, meaning that it is a partnership between therapists and clients. This partnership is guided by the perspectives and experiences of the client. This contrasts with some other approaches, which are based on the therapist assuming the “expert” role and imposing their perspectives on clients. Thus, at its core, Motivational Interviewing is rooted in mutual understanding and respect.

  • Evocation.

No matter what reasons clinicians might offer to convince clients they need to change or how much they want clients to do so, motivation and commitment to change is most powerful and durable when it comes from the client. Accordingly, clinicians using Motivational Interviewing work to “draw out” their clients’ own thoughts and ideas and to discover their own reasons and determination for change.

  • Autonomy.

Rather than emphasizing clinicians as “authority figures,” Motivational Interviewing recognizes that the true power for change rests with clients. Ultimately, it is up to clients to follow through and make changes happen. This is empowering, but also gives them responsibility for their actions. Clinicians stress that there is no single “right way” to change. In addition to deciding whether they will make a change, clients are encouraged to take the lead in developing options as to how to achieve this change.

Motivational Interviewing is an evidence-based therapy, meaning that it has been proven to be effective through rigorous scientific research. Clinicians at EBT3 are experienced in using MI to address a variety of difficulties, such as Substance Use Disorders. For more information on Motivational Interviewing, or to find an experienced psychologist, please contact us.

Some of the above information on Motivational Interviewing was obtained through the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Technology Transfer Center, Motivational Interviewing Website (