“People are better persuaded by the reasons they themselves discovered than those that come into the minds of others.” – Blaise Pascal

In order to change, people need the desire to come from within. It doesn’t matter how many times our mother, father, sibling, significant other, friend, doctor or therapist says, “Your habits are dangerous and you need to change.” While it’s well and good that someone else wants what’s good for us; if we don’t want it for ourselves, we’re not going to go after it. 

This can be seen in any sort of habit formation, from something as simple as nail-biting to something more extreme like drug and/or alcohol abuse. While outsiders are likely to see the disorder for what it is and desire a better quality of life for us, the desire to change needs to come from inside of us.

This is where motivational interviewing comes into play, effectively used by therapists and counselors to help addicted individuals find motivation and desire within themselves to change their lifestyles.  

What is motivational interviewing?

Motivational interviewing is based on the psychology of Carl Rogers and was first practiced in the counseling scene in the 1980s. It is the practice of increasing the motivation to change within the individual by prompting them to discuss and explore their reasons for change versus having these reasons simply handed to them. It is a way of conversing with a client in an environment where the client themself guides the discussion and thereby reaches their own conclusions on wanting to change.

“Motivational interviewing rests on the assumption that people are ambivalent about change versus weak or resistant to doing so. It’s an optimistic approach to change aimed at resolving this ambivalence through eliciting and reinforcing change talk” (Positive Psychology).

The five principles of motivational interviewing

In their discussions with clients, counselors practice five principles to help motivate change. 

These five principles are: 

  1. Express empathy through reflective listening
  2. Develop discrepancy between clients’ goals or values and their current behavior
  3. Avoid argument and direct confrontation
  4. Adjust to client resistance rather than opposing it directly
  5. Support self-efficacy and optimism

By listening to clients, counselors should not only be able to empathize but should be able to create an environment in which clients feel comfortable talking and opening up honestly. 

Counselors can then take what they’ve said and direct them towards identifying the inconsistencies with their current ways of life (addiction) and their desired way of life (addiction-free). This is not done in an argumentative way that puts clients on the defensive, rather, it requires adjusting to the needs of the client.

If it takes longer to broach one particular topic, the counselor patiently works with the client to reach that place of honesty again. The whole process is carried out in an optimistic manner, where the client is encouraged to be self-directed towards healthy living. 

Does motivational interviewing work?

Multiple studies have revealed the effectiveness of motivational interviewing in treating addiction, with results being nearly as apparent as those from other methods like CBT and pharmacotherapy. 

Because motivational interviewing builds on self-efficacy, it helps remove the mental block of “I can’t do this,” or “There’s no way for me to change.” When these negative thought processes are removed, individuals are able to practice positive self-talk and can see for themselves the ways in which they are capable of change.

Who offers motivational interviewing?

Motivational interviewing is typically done alongside other addiction treatment methods, including medicine and other forms of counseling. Addiction treatment facilities utilize motivational interviewing to enhance their treatment programs, but also to give those with greater resistance to change or a belief that they can’t change the opportunity to believe change is possible. 

Motivational interviewing doesn’t believe in a lost cause; there’s no impossible case. Sometimes it takes patience, empathy and compassion for a client to realize this is true. This is the beauty of motivational interviewing as a means of conquering addiction. It gives strength and an interiorly-stemmed resilience to overcoming the substance abuse habit, thereby creating a lasting change within the individual. 

Addiction treatment centers like Silver Ridge Recovery are proud to offer motivational interviewing alongside other treatment options. By focusing on holistic healing – body, mind and spirit – clients are able to fully experience freedom from addiction and all the rich possibilities an addiction-free life offers. 

To talk to someone about motivational interviewing and other addiction treatment options, contact Silver Ridge Recovery today at (855) 945-7788.