Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing is an approach to working with clients that aims to strengthen their motivation for behavior change through partnership and empathy. It was developed about 30 years ago to treat substance use disorders. Since then, it has been proven effective in treating other mental and physical conditions, including depression, anxiety, diabetes and asthma. 

Motivational Interviewing is based on a strong partnership between the health professional and client. This approach enhances a client's Internal motivation to change by helping him or her to explore and resolve ambivalence. 

What's different about Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational Interviewing works differently from many other approaches to behavior change. It includes the following ideas:
  • Clients are the experts on their own lives, and ambivalence is a normal part of change.
  • It is not our jobs as professionals to instill motivation, but to help clients discover their own desire to change.
  • With proper support, clients can successfully draw on internal motivation to meet their goals.

​Motivational Interviewing is a guiding style of communication. Learning this style of working with clients gives health professionals in all disciplines a comprehensive set of skills to facilitate change. 

How do I add Motivational Interviewing to my practice?

Research shows that clinicians need specific training, including clinical consultation and support, in order to use Motivational Interviewing effectively. Fortunately, the literature on Motivational Interviewing is substantial and many training materials are available. 

Learning Motivational Interviewing is similar to learning a new language or musical instrument. Most people need instruction, practice and feedback to develop the necessary skills over time. 

See motivational interviewing courses available through the NWATTC

Resources for your practice

The Northwest Addiction Technology Transfer Center recommends starting at the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers website.
MINT Excellence in Motivational Interviewing

Find Motivational Interviewing courses through the NWATTC. Tour of Motivational Interviewing
A Tour of Motivational Interviewing takes the learner on a   journey of the essential skills used to strengthen an individual’s  motivation for behavior change.  Descriptions, demonstrations, and learning activities provide an introduction to MI. This course does not prepare the learner to deliver this evidence-based practice with fidelity. Learning MI is a developmental process requiring a longer-term investment of time and effort, repeated opportunities to practice learned skills, and opportunities to receive feedback on performance from experienced MI practitioners. By completing this course, the learner can make an informed decision on whether or not to pursue more advanced MI training.