Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing


Motivational interviewing is the process of exploring a patient and their intrinsic processes. It is a method in which the therapist doesn't attempt to impose a change on the client that does not align with their own values but support one that fits into their given lifestyle. It is a respectful way to focus on the stages of counseling with the patient by also examining their identity. The right practitioner has the ability to tune into a client and create change that works for them. Throughout the interview a therapist questions the client as if they are more of a trusted partner. The counselor will make them feel comfortable throughout the sessions by addressing some of their discomforts or mixed feelings. This method of interviewing works best for those who aren't aware of their problem until the therapist makes them realize that it is destructive. Although the method has not been tested it can be used outside of formal counseling and implemented into other programs such as those that address people who suffer from a psychiatric disorder.

Goals of Motivational Interviewing

The goal of Motivational Interviewing is to communicate respect to the patient. The client will be more likely to talk about their issues or concerns when they are treated with personal respect than if they were to be lectured by a complete stranger. Being that the method leads to successful outcomes it's important to outline during treatment. By giving the patient a voice they can respect a relationship with the health care professional. Motivational Interviewing or change talk focuses on the client's response and how they can begin viewing the relationship with themselves and their therapist. If more respect and listening are apparent in this method it can lead to successful behavioral changes. The goal is dual utility between a professional and client. They will begin to view the importance of changing and eventually see that change is possible regardless of the circumstances.

When is Motivational Interviewing Used?

The use of Motivational Interviewing depends on the issue. A therapist may implement the method when they are dealing with a patient who isn't aware of their wrong doing. The patient may suffer from an addiction and be fully unaware that they possess destructive behavior. It is an effective form of interaction because it's a style of counseling that resolves ambivalence. This works because it can make a patient realize what they are doing on their own instead of having a therapist tell them that they are wrong. The method is implemented when the goal is to initiate a behavior change in the client. There are some people who do not need help from others in order to change. Many do through a formal treatment plan with a therapist who respects the needs of the patient instead of forcing change. The method may also be used if the client needs to create values or personal motivations. The relationship between the mentor and the student is a structural partnership and team effort. It is used in situations when the client may be defensive toward therapy or act aggressively during confrontation.

How Motivational Interviewing Works

During Motivational Interviewing the therapist expresses empathy by using reflective listening. This helps them gain a deeper understanding of the patient and some of their frustrations or thoughts on the matter. They will then work with the client by respecting their values and questioning unhealthy behaviors at the same time. All of this is being done with respect and empathy toward the affected. After the patient realizes that their behavior is unhealthy they can work in coordination with the therapist to gain confidence and change their behavior.

It's important for the health care professional to be familiar with the client and filter through their thoughts so that they will begin to be aware of their own actions. By letting the individual know that change is possible they will gain confidence in their own behavior and begin acting on the ability to change. By accepting the patient and letting them know that they are not being ridiculed for this behavior, they are more likely to recognize the need to improve. Awareness is one of the most important strategies in those who are participating in destructive behavior. When the therapist lets the patient know that they have freedom of choice they will be more likely to participate in progressive self direction.


Hartney, E. (n.d.). What is motivational interviewing?. Retrieved from

Motivational enhancement therapy (alcohol, marijuana, nicotine). (n.d.). Retrieved from

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