Motivational interviewing is a therapy technique used to bring about motivation for the client to change their destructive behavior. This method is often used for addiction as a lack of motivation to quit can be one of the most difficult barriers for individuals struggling with addiction.
The History of Motivational Interviewing
Motivational interviewing was first brought to the scene in the early 1980s. It was presented by Professor William R Miller and further developed by Professor Stephen Rollnick. This method has proven effective in guiding clients out of alcoholism and into more productive life patterns. Motivational interviewing is also effective in addressing other forms of addiction and substance abuse.
With motivational interviewing, it is thought that all individuals dealing with addiction are at least partially aware of the negative consequences brought about by drug abuse and addiction. Additionally, each individual is currently in a certain stage of readiness when it comes to making changes in their behavior. A motivational interviewing therapist will facilitate the process of getting ready to change by overcoming ambivalence or fear of change leading to an increase in the client’s own motivation.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration conducted a National Health Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2009 which stated that 23.5 million Americans were in need of treatment for addiction disorders. Many do not feel that their substance abuse problem is as serious as it really is and many don’t want to give up the positive associations they have with drug use. A fear of withdrawal symptoms and cravings can also contribute to an individual’s lack of desire to stop using drugs. Individuals who are addicted may even go through stages of grief after giving up drugs.
The Principle of Motivational Interviewing
Motivational Interviewing is based on four main principles that any addiction counselor will focus on when using this method. By incorporating these core principles into the addiction treatment process, counselors can help clients to explore and overcome their own addictive behavior.
- Express empathy – An addiction counselor will make every effort to attempt to see the addiction from the perspective of the client without passing judgment or forcing a confrontation.
- Develop discrepancy – The client and counselor will work together to explore the differences between an addictive lifestyle and a life the client wants to experience.
- Navigate resistance – The counselor will, at a point, accept that the client will be resistant to change. This is natural and seen as an indicator of deeper problems.
- Encourage self-efficacy – Finally, the counselor will choose to support the client’s right to determine their own future. This may mean embracing change or continuing on their current path.
While Motivational Interviewing may not be the chosen method of treatment by every addiction counselor, it is considered to be a cornerstone of respect and dignity which sets it apart from other regimens. It can be extremely effective in treating drug and alcohol addiction and may be combined with other treatment methods.