Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a form of substance use disorder treatment defined in 1983 by American clinical psychologist William Miller. By delineating Motivational Interviewing techniques, Miller helped to change the way recovery professionals think about the nature of substance use disorders and their treatment. Specifically, the technique addresses how to effect lasting change in clients who have not improved with traditional treatment approaches.

What Is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational Interviewing is a form of interpersonal therapy designed to help people with substance use disorders and alcohol abuse challenges. Moreover, it utilizes a Motivational Interviewing Assessment (MIA). During MI therapy, clients examine their interpersonal processes in the context of addictive behaviors. Additionally, MI uses the five principles of Motivational Interviewing to empower clients. As a result, MI therapy research shows that it provides an effective route to recovery.

The five principles of Motivational Interviewing have proven to be effective with younger populations, such as teens. The five principles of MI therapy highlight the following: 1) the expression of empathy through reflective listening; 2) the support of any discrepancy between a client’s goals or values and their current behavior; 3) the avoidance of argument and frank confrontation; 4) the careful adjustment to client resistance rather than opposing it directly; and 5) the optimistic support of self-efficacy and autonomy.

In Motivational Interviewing, the recovery professional becomes a helper in the change process by expressing acceptance of clients, regardless of outcome or result. The goal of MI therapy, the MIA, and Motivational Interviewing techniques is to resolve and overcome the ambivalence and resistance that often leads to a cycle of relapse. Therefore, MI helps clients find a path of sustainable sobriety.

Sources: MINT: Excellence In Motivational InterviewingNational Center for Biotechnology Information (NIH)Psychology Today

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