Motivational interviewing is a semi-directive, client-centered counselling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence. Compared with non-directive counseling, it’s more focused and goal-directed. Motivational Interviewing is a method that works on facilitating and engaging intrinsic motivation within the client in order to change behavior. The examination and resolution of ambivalence is a central purpose, and the counsellor is intentionally directive in pursuing this goal.
Motivational interviewing recognizes and accepts the fact that clients who need to make changes in their lives approach counselling at different levels of readiness to change their behavior. During counseling, some patient may have thought about it but not taken steps to change it while some especially those voluntarily seeking counseling, may be actively trying to change their behavior and may have been doing so unsuccessfully for years. In order for a therapist to be successful at motivational interviewing, four basic skills should first be established. These skills include: the ability to ask open ended questions, the ability to provide affirmations, the capacity for reflective listening, and the ability to periodically provide summary statements to the client.
Motivational interviewing is non-judgmental, non-confrontational and non-adversarial. The approach attempts to increase the client’s awareness of the potential problems caused, consequences experienced, and risks faced as a result of the behavior in question. Alternately, therapists help clients envision a better future, and become increasingly motivated to achieve it. Either way, the strategy seeks to help clients think differently about their behavior and ultimately to consider what might be gained through change. Motivational interviewing focuses on the present, and entails working with a client to access motivation to change a particular behavior, that is not consistent with a client’s personal value or goal. Warmth, genuine empathy, and unconditional positive regard are necessary to foster therapeutic gain (Rogers, 1961) within motivational interviewing. Another central concept is that ambivalence about decisions is resolved by conscious or unconscious weighing of pros and cons of change vs. not changing (Ajzen, 1980). It is critical to meet patients/clients where they are (Prochaska, 1983), and to not force a client towards change when they have not expressed a desire to do so.
Motivational interviewing is considered to be both client-centered and semi-directive. It departs from traditional Rogerian client-centered therapy through this use of direction, in which therapists attempt to influence clients to consider making changes, rather than non-directively explore themselves.