About MI

If you work with people who are not ready to change, then MI can help! Anyone involved in helping people change will find Motivational Interviewing useful:

  • Support workers
  • Physical fitness coaches
  • Health care practitioners
  • Social workers
  • Career counsellors
  • Inner city workers
  • Home visitors
  • Counsellors
  • Financial planners
  • Correctional officers
  • Supervisors.

The majority

For any given behaviour, only 20% of people will be ready to change. MI is a way of working with the other 80%.

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Developed by Miller and Rollnick (1991), Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a way of working with people who are not ready to change.

It is respectful

The core of MI is its spirit. MI works from the fundamental belief in people’s innate capacity to change and to be able to make decisions in line with their values, needs and wants. MI works to bring out people’s own knowledge, values and perceptions. We work to enhance and build their sense of competence and hope. It is, in theory and practice, empowering—for both the client and the practitioner.

Increases intrinsic motivation for change

MI places the responsibility for change with the client. People cannot be “made” or “forced” to change. MI works to increase intrinsic motivation by exploring and resolving ambivalence.

The “but” of change

A normal part of change is ambivalence—when you feel two (or more) ways about something. When presented with advice or prescriptions, the ambivalent changer will often reply with a “Yes, but...” and give you all the reasons for not doing whatever you’ve suggested. Or they might say “Sure,” and never follow through on your advice. Sound familiar? MI gives you an effective path out of this dynamic.

There is a direction

The goal of MI is to resolve ambivalence in the direction of change. We do that by using the skills of MI to elicit “change talk” and reduce resistance.

It works

More than 160 randomized clinical research trials have found MI to be effective, often more than methods which take much more time and practitioner effort. It has been used with: alcohol/drug abuse, smoking, exercise, diabetes management, heart disease rehabilitation, diet, FASD prevention, problem gambling, family violence and working with people who are homeless.

MI has been accepted for inclusion into the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), a service of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

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Three parts

There are three key parts of motivation: readiness, importance and confidence.

When people aren't ready, it's usually because the change isn't important enough or there isn't enough confidence (or both!). MI works to increase all three parts of motivation.