What is Motivational Interviewing?
“MI 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.” (Miller & Rollnick, 2013, p. 29)
The most current version of MI is described in detail in Miller and Rollnick (2013) Motivational Interviewing: Helping people to change (3rd edition). Key qualities include:
- MI is a guiding style of communication, that sits between following (good listening) and directing (giving information and advice).
- MI is designed to empower people to change by drawing out their own meaning, importance and capacity for change.
MI is based on a respectful and curious way of being with people that facilitates the natural process of change and honors client autonomy. It is important to note that MI requires the clinician to engage with the client as an equal partner and refrain from unsolicited advice, confronting, instructing, directing, or warning. It is not a way to “get people to change” or a set of techniques to impose on the conversation. MI takes time, practice and requires self-awareness and discipline from the clinician. (Miller & Rollnick, 2009) While the principles and skills of MI are useful in a wide range of conversations, MI is particularly useful to help people examine their situation and options when any of the following are present:
- Ambivalence is high and people are stuck in mixed feelings about change.
- Confidence is low and people doubt their abilities to change.
- Desire is low and people are uncertain about whether they want to make a change.
Importance is low and the benefits of change and disadvantages of the current situation are unclear.