Motivational interviewing (MI) is a collaborative, goal-oriented method of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is intended to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a change goal by eliciting and exploring an individual’s own arguments for change.” -- William Miller, Steve Rollnick, 2012
Miller & Rolling described MI as one style of helping others make changes in their behavior (I believe this has more recently been revised to include broader range of change than just behavior). It contrasts with the more typical directing helping style where the practitioner tries to install knowledge or motivation. It is similar to a guiding helping style where the practitioner collaborates with the client to explore and experiment with changes.
However, a practitioner who uses an MI style goes beyond just guiding when he or she tries to solicit from the client his or her desires and reasons for engaging in the health promoting behavior.
There are two aspects of MI that are significant and often overlooked. These are:
- Responding to the client as a person who is competent rather than someone who needs to be rescued or is incapable of making welfare or health promoting decisions.
- Compassion; motivational interviewing is not something one does to someone, does in order to get to some goal of the health care provider, or does as part of selling the client on something. MI is intended to help the client and for the client.
It’s on compassion that I wanted to share the following. It may help to spend a few minutes reflecting upon your client as a person and less so about their problems.
1. Close your eyes
2. Think about someone you’re working with now
- Now think… - she was once young too
- Think how… - she once had dreams
- Think how… - she had ups and downs in her life
- Think… - of her joys and happiness
- Think how… - her successes must have felt
- Think how… - she must have had pain & heartache
- Think of her… - strengths
- Think… - she has faults
3. Now ask yourself, is she really any different from you