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Motivational Interviewing (MI)

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Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Is a therapeutic approach that focuses on helping individuals resolve ambivalence and find intrinsic motivation to make positive behavioral changes. Developed by psychologists William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, MI is widely used in various fields, including addiction treatment, health care, mental health, and counseling.

At its core, MI is a collaborative and person-centered approach that respects an individual’s autonomy and self-determination. The therapist’s role in motivational interviewing is to evoke and strengthen the person’s motivation for change, rather than imposing their own agenda or advice. The approach is based on the understanding that people are more likely to change when they perceive their own reasons for change and feel empowered to make choices.

Motivational interviewing involves several key principles and techniques:

  1. Expressing empathy: The therapist shows genuine empathy, understanding, and acceptance toward the individual’s feelings, experiences, and struggles. This empathetic stance helps establish a supportive and non-judgmental therapeutic relationship.
  2. Developing discrepancy: The therapist helps the person explore the discrepancy between their current behavior and their broader goals, values, or desired outcomes. By highlighting this discrepancy, individuals become more aware of the reasons why change may be necessary.
  3. Rolling with resistance: Rather than confronting or challenging resistance, the therapist acknowledges and respects it. They avoid direct confrontation, arguments, or persuasion. Instead, they seek to understand the person’s perspective, explore their concerns, and encourage open discussion.
  4. Supporting self-efficacy: The therapist fosters the person’s belief in their own capacity to change and make decisions. They encourage the exploration of past successes and personal strengths to enhance confidence and self-efficacy.
  5. Evoking change talk: MI aims to elicit “change talk” from the individual, which includes statements or expressions of motivation, desire, ability, and commitment to change. The therapist actively listens for these moments and gently encourages them, helping to strengthen the person’s own motivation.
  6. Using open-ended questions and reflective listening: MI relies heavily on open-ended questions that encourage exploration and reflection. Reflective listening involves restating or summarizing what the person has expressed, which demonstrates understanding and encourages further exploration.

Motivational interviewing can be used as a stand-alone therapy or integrated with other therapeutic approaches. Its collaborative nature and focus on intrinsic motivation make it an effective method for addressing ambivalence and facilitating positive behavior change.

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