Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based treatment that addresses ambivalence to change. MI is a conversational approach designed to help people with the following:

  • Discover their own interest in considering and/or making a change in their life (e.g., diet, exercise, managing symptoms of physical or mental illness, reducing and eliminating the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs)
  • Express in their own words their desire for change (i.e., "change-talk")
  • Examine their ambivalence about the change
  • Plan for and begin the process of change
  • Elicit and strengthen change-talk
  • Enhance their confidence in taking action and noticing that even small, incremental changes are important
  • Strengthen their commitment to change

Core Principles

There are four core principles of MI:

  • Express empathy
  • Roll with resistance
  • Develop discrepancy
  • Support self-efficacy

Making the Case

Ambivalence is a natural state of uncertainty that each of us experiences throughout most change processes (e.g., dieting; exercising; maintaining health; restructuring an organization). Ambivalence occurs because of conflicting feelings about the process and outcomes of change.

Although ambivalence is natural, many of us are not aware of it. In addition, many service providers have not been trained to respond to people who are ambivalent about change, and most service programs are not designed to accept and work with people who are ambivalent. Yet, there is a solution. Change your service approach and the culture of your organization with MI. 

MI increases:

  • Positive treatment outcomes
  • Consumer quality-of-life
  • Consumer engagement and retention
  • Staff recruitment, satisfaction, and retention

MI decreases:

  • Staff burn-out and attrition
  • Confrontations with consumers
  • Consumer no-show and drop-out

Multiple Disciplines

MI is one of the core components of a variety of interventions used by direct-service providers, supervisors, team leaders, and organizations in service areas including:

  • Substance abuse (addiction services)
  • Mental health
  • Psychiatry
  • Primary healthcare
  • Nursing
  • Supported employment
  • Tobacco cessation and recovery
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Residential
  • Housing
  • Healthcare
  • Criminal justice

Clinical Reach

MI is a core component of evidence-based practices, emerging best practices, and clinical competencies for the following:

  • Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) (link to ACT)
  • Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment (IDDT) (link to IDDT)
  • Dual Diagnosis Capability in Addiction and Mental Health Treatment (DDCAT/DDCMHT) (link to DDC)
  • Supported Employment / Individual Placement and Support (SE/IPS) (link to SE/IPS)
  • Tobacco: Recovery Across the Continuum (TRAC) (link to TRAC)
  • Wellness Management and Recovery (WMR)
  • Integrated Primary and Behavioral Healthcare (IPBH) (link to IPBH)
  • Housing Services
  • Residential Treatment Services
  • Adolescent and Family Services
  • Healthcare
  • Supervision
  • Criminal Justice

Member of MINT

Consultants and trainers at the Center for Evidence-Based Practices have accumulated decades of combined experience utilizing, supervising, training, and consulting about MI in a variety of direct-practice settings.

Several consultants and trainers from the CEBP have been trained by and participate actively in the international Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT), an initiative which is directed by MI co-creators William R. Miller, PhD, and Stephen Rollnick, PhD. Through MINT, our center maintains regular communication with peers throughout the world who are actively conducting new research and producing new knowledge about and practice innovations for MI. Our participation in MINT enables us to bring those innovations to you today.

Consulting and Training Services

Our MINT consultants and trainers have developed an enhanced menu of MI consultations and trainings for organizations that serve people diagnosed with mental illness and substance use disorders. Our goal is to help organizations become self-sufficient with using, evaluating, and supervising MI. Therefore, we have developed the following services:

  • Introductory and advanced MI training
  • Onsite consulting following the training
  • Evaluation of live and recorded practice skills

We have developed our MI consulting and training with the following learning objectives in mind. Participants will learn the following in classroom and experiential settings:

  • Theory/concepts of MI
  • Practice/principles of MI (introductory and advanced techniques)
  • Supervision of MI (introductory and advanced techniques)
  • Implementation of MI program within an organization

Core Training Events

Our center incorporates exercises and examples specific to the unique practice settings of participants in its training events, with an emphasis upon skills that advance the recovery of individuals with severe and persistent mental illness and/or substance use disorders. Our center's core Motivational Interviewing (MI) training events include the following:

  • Foundations of Motivational Interviewing, Part 1
  • Foundations of Motivational Interviewing, Part 2
  • Motivational Interviewing, Applied Skills for Practice
  • Motivational Interviewing, Resources for Clinical Supervisors

The CEBP provides Foundations of Motivational Interviewing as two all-day events, Part 1 and Part 2. Both workshops provide core concepts and skills from which participants may build proficiency in the use of this evidence-based treatment. At the completion of Part 1, we expect participants to practice the basic strategies of MI in their work settings before attending Part 2.

Research and Development

Motivational Interviewing (MI) was developed and is studied by William R. Miller, PhD, and Stephen Rollnick, PhD. According to Miller and Rollnick, "MI is a collaborative, person-centered form of guiding to elicit and strengthen motivation for change" (Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) 2009). 

Resources and Tools

The Center for Evidence-Based Practices has developed a number of resources to help with the implementation of Motivational Interviewing, including CEBP-produced materials like our readiness ruler, reminder cards, and a series of audio recordings, as well as additional articles, websites, books and recommendations for further reading.

Explore all of our resources

Related Story

Learn Motivational Interviewing to Build Trust, Relationships around Desire for Personal Change (link to story)