What is motivational interviewing?

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a brief person-centered method for strengthening an individual’s motivation for and commitment to change. MI was originally designed for working with people with substance use disorders, but has since been more widely applied in health care. It is particularly indicated when an individual is reluctant, ambivalent or defensive about change. The overall spirit or style of MI is collaborative and empathic, and is usually delivered over 1-4 sessions to elicit behavior change. MI seeks to evoke the individual’s own motivations, strengths and resources and then leverages those for change. The therapist elicits and explores the individual’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance to minimize resistance and defensiveness. Studies have demonstrated that therapists adhering to MI-consistent skills are able to significantly increase an individual’s change talk, which in turn predicts behavior change outcomes.

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