Motivational Interviewing (MI) is collaborative, goal-oriented method of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is intended to strengthen personal motivation for, and commitment to, a target behaviour change, by eliciting and exploring an individual’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.
Motivational Interviewing incorporates strategies from client-centred counselling, systems theory, cognitive therapy and the social psychology of persuasion. Its theoretical basis lies in the constructs of ambivalence (regarding change) and self-regulation (Miller & Rollnick, 1991). Within the underlying theoretical basis of Motivational Interviewing, motivation is emphasised as a context or state of readiness rather than a personality trait. When viewed in this way, motivation can be seen as a state which may fluctuate from time to time, and therefore, which may be influenced.
MI is usually brief, provided in one to two sessions. It can be delivered as a free-standing intervention, or as a motivational prelude to some other treatment. It has also been common to combine MI with other intervention components and these are known as Adaptations of MI.
Motivational Interviewing is an evidenced-based approach with over 1000 clinical trials demonstrating its efficacy across a broad range of clinical and cultural contexts. Originally developed by William Miller and Steve Rollnick in 1991 for helping people with addiction problems, MI is now being applied more widely in health care, criminal justice, vocational, rehabilitation and mental health settings.