Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a way of talking with people about change related to things we often have mixed feelings about – exercise, diet, alcohol and other drug use, relationship issues, risky sexual behaviors, school and job related concerns, spiritual practices, certain attitudes, and other issues we face in our lives.
MI is defined as “a collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person’s own motivation and commitment to change.” MI can also be described as “a way of helping people talk themselves into changing.” This approach embodies “a mind-set and a heartset” that includes partnership, acceptance, compassion, and evocation.
Motivational Interviewing is a guiding style that invites people to examine their own values and behaviors and come up with their own reasons to change. It doesn’t try to convince people or argue with them. Instead, it draws out people’s own hopes, experience, and wisdom about themselves including whether or not to change. As William R. Miller says,
“You already have what you need, and together let’s find it.”
People who are used to confronting and giving advice will often feel like they’re not “doing anything.” But, as Miller and Rollnick point out, the proof is in the outcome. More aggressive strategies often push people away. MI, on the other hand, increases the odds that people will give change a chance.