Why Is Motivational Interviewing Important?

by Christine Switzer; Updated September 26, 2017

Developed in the 1990s by William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, motivational interviewing has become an important patient-centered method of counseling that is designed to help treat addictions and to motivate behavioral change. Motivational interviewing emphasizes negotiation over conflict in the counseling relationship, with a focus on developing an individual’s autonomy, confidence and determination for change.

Encourages Change

Motivational interviewing encourages a person to develop personal motivation for engaging in the change process. During motivational interviewing, a person will consider why she is resistant or ambivalent to change and then will identify and articulate reasons to change.

Addresses Resistance

An individual will be similarly encouraged to define problems that she is facing and to actively develop solutions for the problems. Motivational interviewing addresses resistance to change by involving a person in the problem-solving process.

Promotes Autonomy

Motivational interviewing also promotes autonomy. By holding a person responsible for finding practical solutions to his problems, motivational interviewing supports an individual in developing creative ideas for change. It then encourages his belief that change is possible.

Provides Feedback

In a motivational interview, a person will be given empathetic, non-argumentative feedback regarding his thoughts, feelings and experiences. This feedback can help a person to feel as if he has been understood and to grow more comfortable with exploring ideas for change.

Enhances Confidence

Motivational interviewing enhances a person’s confidence as well through the regular survey of personal skills and successes. Motivational interviewing involves regularly affirming of a person’s strong points as well as reviewing past accomplishments.

References

  • Miller, William R., and Stephen Rollnick. Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change. 2nd ed. New York: The Guilford Press, 2002.

About the Author

Christine Switzer has been a freelance writer since 2007. She contributes to travel and regional periodicals such as "Georgetown View" and "Burlington the Beautiful" and she enjoys writing on travel, lifestyle and the workplace. Switzer holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in English and has taught university courses in communication, public speaking and journalism.