About Motivational Interviewing
According to an article published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine titled, “Motivational interviewing for substance abuse,” the main priority of this specific therapeutic technique is to enhance motivation towards recovery by resolving ambivalence. This therapeutic method was first developed for the treatment of alcohol addiction, and has since been found effective for the treatment of substance abuse disorders of all varieties, as well as mental illness, unresolved trauma and behavioral issues. The intention behind MI is to honor client autonomy while providing a collaborative environment conducive to evocation rather than instruction. Clients learn they have everything within themselves to make positive behavioral changes, they simply have to gain motivation.
There are four principles that set motivational interviewing apart from other therapeutic methods:
- Expressing Empathy – In a traditional talk therapy setting, the therapist takes on an authoritative role. During motivational interviewing sessions the therapist creates a collaborative environment and works alongside each client as their equal. Rather than instructing the client on what steps to take, the therapist asks open-ended questions like, “What areas of your life do you feel could use some improvement?” Or, “Which behavioral patterns serve you, and which do you feel might be detrimental?”
- Overcoming Resistance – It is common for people who have no previous exposure to sobriety to be resistant at first. In MI sessions therapists work with clients to overcome this resistance and show them how much their lives could improve should they stay sober. This principle focuses on reframing certain circumstances and teaching clients they are solely responsible for the outcome of their lives.