Motivational Interviewing

Our counselors are trained in and employ Motivational Interviewing (MI) techniques to increase the likelihood of a client's considering, initiating and maintaining specific change strategies to reduce harmful behavior. It is very possible to treat clients who are in the pre-contemplative stage of change (especially if they are externally motivated to be in treatment) and expect successful outcomes.

MI is a subtle balance of directive and client-centered components shaped by a guiding philosophy and understanding of what triggers change. MI is an evidence-based practice that is goal-directed, client-centered counseling style for eliciting behavioral change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence. The operational assumption in MI is that ambivalent attitudes or lack of resolve is the primary obstacle to behavioral change, so that the examination and resolution of ambivalence becomes its key goal. MI has been applied to a wide range of problem behaviors related to alcohol and substance abuse as well as health promotion, medical treatment adherence, and mental health issues. Although many variations in technique exist, the MI counseling style generally includes the following elements:
  • Establishing rapport with the client and listening reflectively.
  • Asking open-ended questions to explore the client's own motivations for change.
  • Affirming the client's change-related statements and efforts.
  • Eliciting recognition of the gap between current behavior and desired life goals.
  • Asking permission before providing information or advice.
  • Responding to resistance without direct confrontation. (Resistance is used as a feedback signal to the therapist to adjust the approach.)
  • Encouraging the client's self-efficacy for change.