Motivational Interviewing – What Is It?
Motivational interviewing (MI) is a client-centered counseling style designed to elicit behavior change. It assists clients in exploring and overcoming ambivalence about altering their behaviors by focusing on personal goals and values rather than external stimuli or arguments for change. MI has proven effective as an addiction treatment, as well as other health-related areas.
Four essential MI techniques involve asking open-ended questions, showing support and respect with affirmations, expressing empathy through reflections and summaries, and grouping information using therapist’s “change talk.”
As the therapist, your role is to ask open-ended questions of your client. These inquiries can be difficult for your client to answer but will provide insight into what drives them and allow you to gain a deeper insight into their thoughts and emotions as well as create rapport with them. By asking open-ended questions, you help build rapport with them while building an understanding of what drives them.
Positive affirmations are an effective MI technique that shows your client that you are listening and ready to help them make changes. These words of encouragement can boost a client’s self-worth, boost their confidence in making changes, and enable them to move forward with the process of making those adjustments.
Reflection is a fundamental MI skill that all therapists must master to be effective in their practice. This involves listening intently and trying to comprehend your client’s feelings; additionally, reflection allows for any misunderstandings that may have occurred.
Summarizing what your client has shared can be an effective MI technique as it shows you have paid attention and heard them clearly. Furthermore, grouping together the information shared helps when discussing feelings or motivations for change.
Addressing ambivalence in your clients is another essential MI technique. This usually arises due to conflicting emotions about changing behaviors. In such cases, you can use reflection, empathy, and other techniques to help the client explore and resolve their ambivalence.
Your client can benefit from making commitments in their language that demonstrate their dedication and ability to make change happen. Your client could make statements such as, “I will stop smoking if my husband stops drinking.”
These commitments can give clients hope in their ability to change and increase motivation. Furthermore, it helps you develop a rapport with your client so that you can work more effectively as a therapist.
Not only should you give your clients the tools to change their behaviors, but also give them the knowledge and skills to succeed at making those changes. This could include teaching them about the health benefits that accompany behavior modification and encouraging them to create an action plan for implementing these new habits in the future. This could include setting specific objectives, dealing with setbacks and challenges head-on, as well as creating realistic expectations for success.