Woman in an Motivational Interviewing Therapy ProgramHave you ever felt like in order to get through the day you needed a “pep talk” from a friend? We all sometimes need a little extra push to get through the day. And we very rarely think of this kind of help as therapy, although it is undoubtedly therapeutic. One of the ways to think about motivational interviewing therapy is as the ultimate pep talk. But the best part is that you don’t just listen to the therapist in an individual therapy program — you end up motivating yourself.

Motivational interviewing therapy helps individuals tap into their motivations, strengthen their commitment to change, and set achievable goals. Thus, this therapeutic technique helps to break the cycle of starting, quitting, and restarting an attempt to make positive changes.

What is Motivational Interviewing Therapy?

A motivational interviewing therapy session is structured as an individual session: only you and your therapist or counselor will be present. However, consistent with the principles of “person-” or “client-centered” therapy, you are in control of the conversation. The interviewer will start the conversation by encouraging you to talk openly about what needs to change in your life. And you will also be encouraged to reflect on the reasons you would like those changes to happen and on practical ways that you can bring about that change.

The role of the interviewer from that point on is to listen. Their other job is to affirm what you are saying, and, perhaps most important, to repeat your motivations, goals, and resolutions back to you. In this way, you can hear your reasoning expressed back to you, which helps to strengthen your commitment to changing your life for the better, and helps you to arrive at practical methods of achieving that change and reasonable goals.

What Happens During Motivational Interviewing?

There are four primary phases of motivational interviewing therapy:

With motivational interviewing, the therapist will never impose a set of ideas or be confrontational. Choosing every step towards change, the client always maintains autonomy. When internally driven, change is more authentic and more long-lasting.

Engage
The therapist asks questions about the individual’s hopes, struggles, and concerns.

Focus
The therapist asks questions that help the individual narrow down the specific behaviors that they would like to change.

Evoke
The therapist asks questions that help the individual gauge their confidence in the change, their readiness, and willingness to change and their understanding of the importance of change.

Plan
The therapist asks questions that allow the individual to identify specific steps to take to make the change.

With motivational interviewing, the therapist will never impose a set of ideas or be confrontational. Choosing every step towards change, the client always maintains autonomy. When internally driven, change is more authentic and more long-lasting.

What Makes Motivational Interviewing Therapy So Effective?

Mental healthcare professionals have found motivational interviewing therapy a reliable method because it has proven to be very good at allowing patients to do two things:

Motivate.
As is evident in the name of this therapeutic approach, motivational interviewing therapy is a very useful tool for motivating patients. This is in part because it allows patients to motivate themselves through reflection. One of the most significant impediments to changing our lives is that we so rarely allow ourselves to sit and think without being interrupted. Once we give ourselves that time, we can reflect on what we want in life, on what is and is not going well, and practical ways that we can implement change. Motivational interviewing therapy gives a patient something that is too often sorely lacking in this modern world: the time and space to reflect.

Commit.
Another problem that we often encounter when trying to change our lives is that it can be hard to commit to that change. Even when we have the time and the presence of mind to know what we want, it can be hard to say to ourselves, “This is what I want, and this is how I want to get it.” Motivational interviewing therapy not only facilitates patients recognizing their problems. It also encourages them to come up with realistic ways to reach their goals. Because the focus is on establishing obtainable goals, and because it also is designed to result in committing to those goals, it is an extremely useful tool for helping patients change their lives.

As a result of the above, motivational interviewing therapy can be one of the most effective therapeutic approaches for people seeking change in their lives.

Whom Does Motivational Interviewing Therapy Help?

Motivational interviewing can be applied to virtually all life circumstances in which an individual desires a change or an intervention. It is particularly useful in cases that involve:

Anger management

Panic disorders

With these behavioral health concerns, individuals often recognize that they need to make changes in their lives. Still, the very thing that needs to change (for example, addiction) makes it challenging to find the motivation to do so. Motivational interviewing draws out a person’s intrinsic motivation, and the therapist helps that person to plan a roadmap for lasting change.

What Makes a Good Motivational Interviewing Therapist?

There are several ways to approach the question of what makes an excellent motivational interviewer. First and foremost among these is the fact that they must be a mental health professional. Because motivational interviewing is a learned technique, some aspects require familiarity with the process and with the potential pitfalls and outcomes. An excellent motivational interviewer should also be a good listener, who is empathetic and supportive. They should allow you to talk, and enable you to express your ideas about what needs to change, as well as about how you can enact that change.

A good starting place is to look for a person who has formal training in this area and has significant experience. And as is always the case with mental healthcare workers, remember that even though degrees and experience can count for a lot, it is essential that you feel comfortable with the person, and that you feel that you are being supported and listened to.

Don’t Go It Alone

Promises Behavioral Health offers motivational interviewing alongside several other mental health treatment programs. Are you ready to get started? Get in touch with us online, or by calling us today at 844.875.5609