Motivational Interviewing aims to resolve ambivalence in the individual who is receiving treatment, often either psychological treatment or treatment for a substance use disorder. The goal of Motivational Interviewing is to help the individual seek treatment and help for their own reasons, rather than using externally driven reasons, which are typically viewed as coercive and may not create lasting change.
This style of therapeutic intervention was developed to help people struggling with alcohol use disorder overcome the compulsion to ingest alcohol and focus on long-term health. However, the format has proven to work with many different populations in need of counseling, including people with medical conditions like cardiovascular problems or diabetes. The counselor works with each client individually, building a rapport with the person through the four primary stages of motivational interviewing.
Motivational Interviewing is, ultimately, a process that can be transformed to fit each individual client that a therapist works with. While the first three stages are considered defining characteristics of Motivational Interviewing, the final stage – planning – is not a required step until the client is ready. It is not a step that must be taken during each session, but instead, a voluntary step after the way the client thinks about the world has changed.
It is also important to use this process to help the client develop self-efficacy. When the person notices that they are resistant to change or stress in their lives, they should be able to change their behavior based on Motivational Interviewing techniques. This may involve the planning stage, or the behavioral change could represent a larger, longer-term process involving the individual’s hard work in therapy sessions. When a therapist shows empathy toward the client, instead of enacting behaviors perceived as explaining or telling the client what to do, then they are more likely to elicit change in the client.