Motivational Interviewing

Motivational InterviewingMotivational Interviewing (MI) is a type of therapeutic approach and can be defined as directive, client-centered therapy style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence. MI is focused and goal-directed. It is targeted towards exploring and facilitating clients in resolving their ambivalence to change. MI recognizes that ambivalence or feeling “two ways” about an issue is a normal part of life.

People enter therapy at different stages of readiness for change. For example, some clients enter treatment ready to take steps towards change. Yet, other are participating in sessions but have some reservations or are not “sure” about taking the next steps towards changing their behaviour. An MI framework recognizes that change is difficult and it not uncommon to have mixed feelings and thoughts about it. MI focuses on exploring clients’ readiness for change. It is targeted towards facilitating and engaging the motivation that lies “within” the client.

The spirit of MI aims to capture the following:

  • An empathic and trusting relationship between the clinician and client
  • Evoking client’s motivation for change
  • Eliciting change talk from the client
  • Collaboration between the clinician and the client on goals
  • Resolving client’s ambivalence
  • Developing discrepancy between client’s values and their current behavior
  • Supporting client self-efficacy and belief in change

MI is a widely used approach to enhance a client’s motivation for behaviour change. It is often used in conjunction with cognitive behaviour therapy and has been found to be effective in dealing with a wide range of issues such as anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, and substance use problems.


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