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Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a collaborative, person--centered form of guiding to elicit and strengthen motivation for change. It is an empathic, supportive counseling style that supports the conditions for change. Practitioners are careful to avoid arguments and confrontation, which tend to increase a person's defensiveness and resistance.

Motivational interviewing is a proven and effective way to:

  • Engage individuals with co-occurring disorders
  • Develop therapeutic relationships
  • Determine individualized goals

Motivational interviewing is used for the treatment of many conditions. Specific strategies have been successfully applied to working with individuals with co-occurring disorders include:

  • Assessing the person's perception of the problem
  • Exploring the person's understanding of his or her condition
  • Examining the person's desire for continued treatment
  • Ensuring a person's attendance at initial sessions
  • Expanding the person's perceptions for the possibilities of successful change

Research shows that motivational interviewing techniques, including counseling, assessment, multiple sessions, and brief interventions, are associated with greater participation in treatment and positive treatment outcomes.

Creating Conditions for Change

Practitioners who use motivational interviewing project acceptance rather than censure, which helps free the person to change. Empowering people is an important part improving motivation for change.

Motivational interviewing helps practitioners connect with an individual's intrinsic motivation to change by exploring and resolving ambivalence. It also regards ambivalence to change as normal, expected behavior.

Motivation for change is created when a person recognizes discrepancies between their behavior and their personal goals. The intent of motivational interviewing is to explore the discrepancies with the goal of reducing ambivalence and identifying the individual's goals and priorities. In other words, motivational interviewing helps the person recognize the difference between where they are and where they hope to be.

This approach accepts a person's level of motivation-whatever it is-as the starting point for change.

When to use motivational interviewing techniques

Motivational interviewing may be helpful at many stages of treatment. It is particularly helpful early in treatment or for individuals who are experiencing problems but do not recognize the severity of their condition. It may be used during the assessment process to determine the individuals' goals and functional level.

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