Motivational interviewing (MI) is an approach to psychotherapy that focuses on finding an individual’s motivation to accomplish set goals through positive decision making. Motivational interviewing helps increase a client’s treatment engagement and consistency. This treatment is unique in that it uses a collaborative and non-confrontational method. Rather than directly proposing change, the therapist allows the client to explore their own thoughts and feelings and find their own motivations for change. Motivational interviewing often consists of open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections, summaries and change talk. Through MI, the client is able to arrive at their own conclusions with the support of the therapist and without outside pressure to do so. The “spirit of motivational interviewing” includes three primary components: collaboration, evocation, and autonomy. Collaboration is achieved by the therapist understanding the problem from the client’s point of view, acting as a source of support rather than a source of persuasion. Evocation is based on the client creating an internal desire to make changes relevant to their recovery. Autonomy is achieved through the placement of power in the hands of the client, trusting the client’s decision-making and responsibility.
While motivational interviewing is frequently used in the treatment of addiction, its principles can be applied to a range of additional topics to include depression, anxiety, gambling problems, prescription and illicit drug abuse, and pornography/sexual addictions. MI may be used in combination with other forms of psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).