Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a style of counseling that mental health professionals use to encourage productive verbal sessions with patients who are afflicted with multiple, or co-occurring, disorders. This interview style is very gentle and empathetic.
Family members, friends and peers of those with co-occurring mental disorders can use the motivational interviewing technique outside of a clinical setting. Online psychology courses can help loved ones understand the patient’s afflictions and work with healthcare providers to support and care for the patient.
What Is Motivational Enhancement?
Motivational enhancement therapy is successful in that it allows substance treatment staff to develop therapeutic relationships respecting patients autonomy while becoming a trusted partner and coach throughout the treatment process.
Without motivation, there is little or nothing treatment staff can do. At one time, psychologists viewed motivation having no effect on the success or failure, of treatment for co-occurring mental disorders with addiction. Advances in psychotherapy have proven otherwise, and motivational enhancement coaching is now a vital aspect of the most successful treatment plans in the nation.
With Motivational Enhancement Therapy was developed on the theory that:
Motivation is a key to change.
Motivation is multidimensional
Motivation is dynamic fluctuating.
Motivation is influenced by social interactions.
Motivation can be modified.
Motivation is influenced by the clinicians style.
How Is MI Different From Other Methods?
The motivational interviewing method is different from other approaches that use negative emotions to threaten, frighten or harass patients into making a change. This style of counseling enforces self belief, holds patients accountable, uses positive reinforcement and coaches clients or patients through making changes for themselves. It is an empowering approach to treating co-occurring disorders that has proven to be highly effective for patients and their loved ones.
To develop motivational interviewing skills, implement the following techniques:
- Use reflective listening as a way to show empathy
- Ask open ended questions
- Review current behavioral patterns and compare them to better behaviors
- Rolling with resistance and arguing should be avoided
- Reinforce self-confidence and faith in the ability to make a change.
- Express acceptance and respect for their emotions.
These interview tactics will help establish a doctor/patient relationship in which there is trust that neither party is judgemental and both can collaborate together for the greater good of the patient’s health. Long-term tactics include:
- Prove to be a supportive counselor throughout treatment
- Be a knowledgeable mental health professional
- Listen to patients and
- Explain and persuade patients to agree to make the decision to change rather than tell
- Reiterate that the power to change is in the patient’s hands
Who Can Use Motivational Interviewing Techniques?
Anyone with the ability to learn motivational interviewing techniques can use it with friends, family members and peers. There are many tutorials, informal and formal classes available online to learn about basic, intermediate and advanced psychology, the treatment of those with co-occurring disorders and talking to loved ones using MI techniques. When working in conjunction with professionals to treat a loved one and taking courses to learn more about mental afflictions, combined efforts tend to make big difference at home.
There has never been so much access to information for every person on the planet who has internet and a working computer than present times, so learning about counseling techniques has never been easier. Motivational interviewing, when done professionally, inspires action in self-confidence in the patient.
At home, motivational interviewing can be a way to discuss problems in a non-threatening and productive manner, express deep seated fears, release emotions, form a more loving bond and build trust. It can be incredibly powerful for families and friends of a patient to share in the treatment process because it helps to cement self belief in the ability to make changes and stay on-track. The stronger the patient’s support network, the better the treatment works in the long-term.
Know that helping a family or friend with a mental disorder takes an emotional toll in time. Learn coping strategies for living with a person with mental illness to prevent the gradual development of issues within the home.
Motivational Interview Training
Workshops and classes are available throughout the nation to help counselors and other professionals learn about how to do motivational interviewing. However, structured classes in a formal setting are not always necessary. One of the most common ways that people train in this style of counseling is self-study.
The most important aspects of counseling others is helping them to realize that the power to change is only theirs, reinforce faith in their ability to change and motivate them along the path to achieving their goals. Empowerment is the key to treatment. To explain the process very simply, it’s a counselor’s job to keep the client in check by calling them on their behavior, ask questions that make them think, persuade them to believe in themselves and coach them through a transformational period. The counselor should be gentle, consistent and empathetic throughout the process.
Skilled counselors can take quick exploratory courses in Motivational Interviewing that span from one hour to one day in length. These classes are designed to introduce the concepts and methods used, but does not provide comprehensive knowledge or teach clinical skills. Quick course instructors may assign a few exercises to use in practice. If the method is well accepted in practice, clinicians may choose to take a comprehensive course in applied MI that is broken down into four hour classes once per month for four months.
Motivational Interviewing and the Stages of Change
The ultimate goal of a counselor using MI techniques is to help the patient make a positive life change. This change does not happen overnight, but rather in stages that are experienced on both cognitive and behavioral levels.
There are five stages of change:
Precontemplation – A patient in the early stages of making a change with go through a period of wondering whether or not change is necessary or worth the effort. They focus on thinking about change, but are not yet taking strides to make a difference in their lives. This is the precontemplation stage, where they are unable to see certain behaviors as a problem.
Contemplation – Admitting there is a problem but being unable to muster the energy, confidence or faith to make a change. They may not think that the benefits of change outweigh what must be sacrificed in order to get results. The patient will be at a very low point emotionally and mentally.
Preparation/Determination – The patient makes the decision to get help. They are actively participating in a plan of action with a healthcare provider and are following pre-planned steps. This stage is where the patient prepares for change by building up belief in themselves and resolving past issues that stand in the way of progress.
Action/Willpower – At this stage, big changes are taking place. The patient is probably experiencing a variety of rapid-fire emotional consequences, so support networks need to be standing at the ready. Living with the changes and making adjustments to continue making positive progress is very difficult at first. Reinforcing faith in the patient and celebrating accomplishments is very helpful. Do not ignore mistakes, but help them recognize and take responsibility for them.
Maintenance – Behavioral changes are now an integral part of the patient’s life, though memories of the past may linger and resurface occasionally. The support network must be available and follow-up visits with healthcare professionals are necessary to avoid recurrence of harmful thoughts and behaviors.
TIPS FOR NON-PROFESSIONALS: Being able to accurately measure a patient’s progress is important. Family members and friends who use MI techniques to help the patient must be aware that professional medical care is absolutely necessary for success. Never encourage a patient to stop treatment for mental disorders.
Motivation Is Multifaceted
Motivation levels are easily influenced and can change very quickly. It is important to bolster confidence, set very clear goals, measure progress frequently and maintain a strong support network so that the patient can be consistent and gain more control over their lives.
Professional, private and community support is integral to success. Families and friends are well advised to educate themselves on interviewing techniques in order to keep an accurate measure of progress and help the patient find long-term success.