What is Motivational Interviewing

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a technique that was developed by psychologists Bill Miller and Steve Rollnick. One recent definition of MI calls it a collaborative, person-centered form of guiding to elicit and strengthen motivation for change.

In the MI approach, clients are assumed to be in a state of ambivalence that can best be resolved by highlighting discrepancies between perceived risk and actual experience of negative consequences. The clinician identifies the difference in where clients are and where they would like to be. Through careful listening and the reflecting of “change talk,” the clinician provides the client the opportunity to explore a path toward change.

MI can be very helpful in working with individuals who are considering movement toward changing their behavior but have not yet made the decision to take action. By helping “tip the decisional balance” towards making a positive change in their behavior, MI helps clients who are not yet motivated to change find a reason to do so. Motivational Interviewing trainings are available for individuals at every experience level.

Here are some definitions of Motivational Interviewing from the third Edition of the book written By Miller and Rollnick (2012).

Layperson’s Definition – What is it for?

  •  Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person’s own motivation and commitment to change.

Practitioner’s Definition – Why would I want to learn this, and how would I use it?

  • Motivational interviewing is a person-centered counseling style for addressing the common problem of ambivalence about change.

Technical Definition – How does it work?

  • Motivational interviewing is a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is designed to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.