Motivational interviewing (MI) is a directive, client-centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence. It is well known to assist in the treatment of addictive behaviours and assisting a person to increase their motivation to change.
There are four distinct principles that guide the practice of MI. The therapist employing MI will hold true to these principles throughout treatment.
• Express Empathy
Empathy involves seeing the world through the client's eyes, thinking about things as the client thinks about them, feeling things as the client feels them, sharing in the client's experiences.
• Support Self-Efficacy
MI is a strengths-based approach that believes that clients have within themselves the capabilities to change successfully. A client's belief that change is possible (self-efficacy) is needed to instill hope about making those difficult changes.
• Roll with Resistance
In MI, counselors avoid eliciting resistance by not confronting the client and when resistance occurs, they work to de-escalate and avoid a negative interaction, instead "rolling with it." A frequently used metaphor is “dancing” rather than “wrestling” with the client. In exploring client concerns, clinicians invite clients to examine new points of view, and are careful not to impose their own ways of thinking.
• Develop Discrepancy
Motivation for change occurs when people perceive a mismatch between “where they are and where they want to be”, and a counselor practicing Motivational Interviewing works to develop this by helping clients examine the discrepancies between their current circumstances/behavior and their values and future goals.