Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Contact: Julienne Giard, LCSW, 860-418-6946,

Motivational interviewing is a style of consumer-centered counseling developed to facilitate change in behaviors. The core principle of the approach is negotiation rather than conflict.

Motivational (MI) was developed by William R. Miller, Ph.D., and Stephen Rollnick, Ph.D.Motivational interviewing is a directive, consumer-centered counseling style that aims to help consumers explore and resolve their ambivalence about behavior change. It combines elements of style (warmth and empathy) with technique (e.g. focused reflective listening and the development of discrepancy). A core tenet of the technique is that the consumer’s motivation to change is enhanced if there is a gentle process of negotiation in which the consumer, not the clinician, articulates the benefits and costs involved. A strong principle of this approach is that conflict is unhelpful and that a collaborative relationship between clinician and consumer, in which they tackle the problem together, is essential. The four central principles of motivational interviewing are:

The four central principles of motivational interviewing:

  1. Express empathy by using reflective listening to convey understanding of the consumer’s point of view and underlying drives
  2. Develop the discrepancy between the consumer’s most deeply held values and their current behavior (i.e. tease out ways in which current unhealthy behaviors conflict with the wish to ‘be good’ – or to be viewed to be good)
  3. Sidestep resistance by responding with empathy and understanding rather than confrontation
  4. Support self-efficacy by building the consumer’s confidence that change is possible

* Adapted from “Advances in Psychiatric Treatment-Motivational Interviewing” by Janet Treasure

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