Motivational interviewing is a counseling method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior. It is a practical, empathetic, and short-term process that takes into consideration how difficult it is to make life changes.
In a supportive manner, a motivational interviewer encourages clients to talk about their need for change and their own reasons for wanting to change. The role of the interviewer is mainly to evoke a conversation about change and commitment. The interviewer listens and reflects back the client’s thoughts so that the client can hear their reasons and motivations expressed back to them. Motivational interviewing is generally short-term counseling that requires just one or two sessions, though it can also be included as an intervention along with other, longer-term therapies.
Motivational interviewing evolved from Carl Roger’s person-centered, or client-centered, approach to counseling and therapy, as a method to help people commit to the difficult process of change. The process is twofold. The first goal is to increase the person’s motivation and the second is for the person to make the commitment to change. As opposed to simply stating a need or desire to change, hearing themselves express a commitment out loud has been shown to help improve a client’s ability to actually make those changes. The role of the therapist is more about listening than intervening. Motivational interviewing is often combined or followed up with other interventions, such as cognitive therapy, support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and stress management training.