What Is Motivational Interviewing?

motivational interviewing techniques

Motivational Interviewing, also known as MI, is a counseling approach that is utilized to inspire patients to change their harmful behaviors. MI was first described in 1983 by Professor William R. Miller, Ph.D., in an issue of Behavioral Psychotherapy. Often, this addiction treatment approach is utilized for individuals with a lack of motivation to quit using substances.  

This is despite the individuals struggling with health, social, financial, and legal consequences. The thought behind motivational interviewing for substance abuse treatment is that the people that have been dealing with addiction are partially aware of the negative repercussions that come with drug addiction and abuse. Currently, every individual is also in a specific stage of readiness when it comes to the behavior being changed. 

During the motivational interviewing for substance abuse treatment sessions, the MI therapist will facilitate the overall process of getting in a position to change the patient’s uncertainty or even a fear of the unknown. Therefore, increasing the client’s motivation instead. Various addicted individuals lack the motivation to change for three main reasons. 

Firstly, people feel as if their substance abuse issues aren’t as serious as they really are. Secondly, the person doesn’t want to give up the worthwhile sensations that are associated with their drug use. Lastly, the individuals fear the consequences of stopping substance use, including the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. 

Numerous addicted individuals go through several stages of grief after giving up their drugs of choice. Motivational interviewing is an effective addiction treatment method not only for patients who have sought out treatment but also for those who have been given addiction treatment. This is usually a part of being pressured into it by loved ones.

How Is Motivational Interviewing Conducted?

There are seven key stages of motivational interviewing that should be sustained across variations in the overall MI technique. The seven key stages of motivational interviewing include the following:

  • Motivation comes from the client, and not from outside sources.
  • The patient is responsible for resolving doubt, not the counselor.
  • Doubt cannot be resolved through direct persuasion.
  • The counselor will quietly obtain information from the client. 
  • The counselor will guide the client in first recognizing and then resolving uncertainty. 
  • Readiness to change is a varying result of interpersonal interaction and not a trait. 
  • The client-counselor relationship should favor a partnership. 

Motivational interviewing is a justly straightforward process that can be completed in a tiny amount of sessions. Typically, motivational interviewing steps are as follows:

Engaging: Talking to the client about concerns, hopes, issues, and establishing a trustful relationship. 

Focusing: This step is narrowing down the conversation to the topic of habits and patterns the patient desires to change. 

Evoking: Obtaining patient information for change by increasing the sense of the importance of change, the readiness for change, and confidence that the change can occur. 

Planning: Developing a set of feasible steps that the patient can utilize to further execute any desired changes.

MI is considered a client-centered model for counseling, meaning that it focuses on figuring out what clients want, not what the counselor feels is best. This process alone requires high levels of reflective listening, empathy, and the ability to form a sturdy bond with the client, ideally, in a short amount of time.

Is Motivational Interviewing for Substance Abuse Effective?

Motivational interviewing for substance abuse appears to especially be effective for alcohol addiction, and this is likely because it’s easier to be doubtful about the overall use of legal substances due to the greater social acceptance than there is over the use of illicit substances. According to an analysis of various studies published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, MI is up to about 20% more effective than several other alcohol addiction treatment methods. The success in motivational interviewing for substance abuse treatment has resulted in being tried for the following:

  • Various types of addiction 
  • Behavioral issues 
  • Mental issues

This can include the following:

  • Increasing motivation for positive behaviors such as exercise or healthy eating
  • Gambling addiction
  • Parenting practices
  • Eating disorders
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Benefits of Motivational Interviewing

  • Large effects from brief motivational interviewing counseling have held up across an extensive variety of real-life clinical surroundings 
  • Emphasizes the building of client motivation which is a strong determinant of change
  • Clients learn a method that is likely to assist them within the first few sessions
  • Delivered within the context of a larger healthcare delivery system 
  • Increased treatment programs participation and retention rates
  • Enhances agreement which improves the treatment outcomes
  • Increased probability of successful treatment outcomes
  • Don’t assume a long-lasting client-therapist relationship
  • Normally delivered in about 2-4 outpatient sessions
  • Triggers change in risk-taking lifestyle behaviors
  • Higher treatment post-program abstinence rates
  • Single sessions have adduced behavior change
  • Mobilizes patient’s resources for change
  • Well-suited for a managed care setting
  • Compatible with health care delivery 
  • Designed as a brief intervention
  • Cites behavior change

MI can be beneficial for those who haven’t experienced good results with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). When there is a lack of motivation present, it can make the changing of an individual’s thoughts and behavior patterns to be challenging. Thus, the addicted individuals who experience uncertainty about quitting might need to go through motivational interviewing first. 

When comparing motivational interviewing to CBT, MI works better for individuals who require support, a close relationship with their counselors, validation of their feelings, and feeling as though CBT doesn’t provide this. MI might be beneficial for individuals who have relapsed in the past after an attempt to get clean. When there is indecision about the consequences of drug abuse, it can be a factor in repeated relapse. 

The process of assisting a person in navigating through the lack of motivation to quit abusing substances isn’t based on pressure or guilt from health professionals or loved ones. If done correctly though, MI can reduce the chance of future relapse and further lead to extended health.

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Limitations of Motivational Interviewing

Even though MI has assisted various individuals in discovering the motivation needed to get on the path of recovery, it isn’t the most ideal form of treatment for everyone. For individuals who have more complex addiction issues such as co-occurring mental illnesses, simple motivation might not be enough. In particular, MI is designed to last for four hours per session. 

Motivational Interviewing for Substance

A person with an underlying significant mental illness will require a more in-depth approach to counseling, possibly one that’s combined with medication, in an attempt to arrive at a place where motivation poses a possibility. This aspect is true for patients with major depressive disorders, which often are distinguished by a lack of motivation. Individuals who lack the cognitive clarity to focus on pros and cons or come up with a plan also are more unlikely to be helped by MI. 

This process could include people with more severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, as well as individuals with cognitive disabilities. Also, individuals who have been medicated for mental illness recently will experience temporary side effects that can then reduce their ability to focus. These patients might need time to find the most effective medication for them and adjust.

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The first step toward achieving recovery is to reach out to one of the rehabs in WV that can get you on the track to recovery. Our admissions team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Give us a call today!

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How to Know If Motivational Interviewing Will Be Effective

Ultimately, the key to whether or not MI will be effective depends on the counselor. Motivational interviewing for substance abuse is a difficult treatment approach to master, as the counselor has to be able to build trusting relationships with various types of people since anyone can become addicted to a substance. A considerable amount of understanding and patience is necessary since the process is also designed to go swiftly. 

The process of motivational interviewing is designed to go quickly because many individuals are unable to pay for much therapy or could even be in the midst of legal battles surrounded by drug use. However, a counselor who can conquer these difficulties might be able to assist those who have been unsuccessful with various other treatment methods. So, as shown, MI poses many benefits.

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Motivational Interviewing for Substance Abuse Treatment

motivational interviewing steps

The main point of motivational interviewing for substance abuse treatment is overcoming the internal conflict over whether or not an individual truly wants to quit or not. Even though there are several reasons to stop engaging in drug abuse or even get serious addiction treatment; for an individual that is addicted, there are also many reasons not to. Commonly, individuals might go back and forth many times, after feeling prompted to quit after the following:

  • Encountering legal or health consequences of drug abuse
  • A conversation with a loved one

After the above-mentioned process occurs, the individual might lose that motivation the following morning. In a recent study conducted, the students who were addicted to tobacco that also received motivational interviewing for substance abuse treatment were about four times more likely than the individuals in the control group to attempt cutting down or quitting. All in all, MI aims to lay out the pros and cons of quitting based on what the patient feels is important. 

Once patients overcome denial and come to their formed conclusions about the pros and cons of drug abuse, the desire to change, what the change might look like, and how they can better implement that change, it becomes much easier for the change to take place. The participants don’t feel as forced to give up on the people that they love. Instead, they are pursuing more of a life change that they have chosen themselves.

Motivational Interviewing for Substance Abuse at Harmony Ridge

Here at Harmony Ridge, we utilize a unique approach to addiction treatment. Our evidence-based style assists those struggling with substance abuse. We welcome you to our treatment facility with our caring and licensed medical team, management, and administration. 

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