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Motivational Interviewing (MI)

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Woman talking in group

Motivational Interviewing is an evidence-based counseling approach that helps people with mental health and substance use disorders, as well as other chronic conditions (diabetes, asthma, heart disease, e.g.), make positive behavioral changes to support better health.
The developers of MI define it as “a collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person’s own motivation and commitment to change” (Miller & Rollnick, 2012). This guiding style of conversation is used to help the person identify their own reasons and solutions for change. 
The approach recognizes that ambivalence about change is normal and can be resolved. MI emphasizes:

  • expressing empathy through reflective listening,
  • helping the client identify discrepancies between their current behavior and their goals or values,
  • eliciting change talk from the client to enhance motivation (statements about their desire, ability, reasons, and need for change),
  • supporting the client’s self-efficacy (the belief they can successfully make a change),
  • empowering clients’ sense of autonomy over their own change. 

MI is well suited for a variety of health settings because it can be applied in briefer patient encounters (Rollnick, Miller, & Butler, 2007), and also works well in combination with other interventions (Arkowitz, Westra, Miller, & Rollnick, 2017). It can be used in group settings (Wagner & Ingersoll, 2012), and its skills are valuable in any situation where resistance to change is encountered (for example, managers and supervisors may find MI skills valuable to use with staff facing change in the workplace).


Looking for Motivational Interviewing Training or Technical Assistance? 

The NWATTC offers several different trainings on MI:

Introduction to Motivational Interviewing (2-day course)

Learn the foundational concepts and skills of MI, including the underlying spirit of MI, its four processes, and core skills. Develop new skills through the use of role play, individual practice, and interactive group exercises.

Advanced Motivational Interviewing (2-day course)

Deepen your practice of MI with this training, which focuses on strategic use of the core skills, encouraging and strengthening change talk, and developing your ability to soften sustain talk. Uses video, live demonstration, and interactive group exercises for expanding skill development. (Prerequisite: Introduction to Motivational Interviewing)

Motivational Interviewing in Groups (2-day course)

Learn how to apply MI methods to your counseling groups. This workshop includes brief instructional presentations, demonstrations, structured learning activities, and group facilitation skill practice, all within an MI framework. (Prerequisite: Participants should have a basic understanding of MI and group facilitation.) 

Motivational Interviewing for Managers (1-day course)

The principles and strategies of MI provide a set of communication and relationship strategies designed to address the common issue of ambivalence toward change, something managers and clinical supervisors may encounter among staff when introducing new practices. This workshop explores the application of MI strategies to working effectively with employees to facilitate internal motivation for change and empower staff using a strength-based approach to leadership. 

Motivational Interviewing Intensive Technical Assistance

Intensive technical assistance packages and services are available to promote the successful adoption and implementation of MI. These services are custom-designed and may include follow-up training and booster sessions, individual coaching sessions, and leadership training on MI implementation.

To request training on MI, contact us at [email protected].

Additional Motivational Interviewing Resources 

Online Training

HealtheKnowledge logo
  • Tour of Motivational Interviewing (HealtheKnowledge/ATTC)
    4-hour online training that takes the learner on a tour of the essential skills used to strengthen an individual’s motivation for behavior change. 4 hours of CE available!
  • Motivational Interviewing CME/CE and Patient Simulations (NIDA-SAMHSA Blending Initiative) Includes: Talking to Patients about Health Risk Behaviors with MI Patient Simulation and Engaging Adolescent Patients About Marijuana Use 

Other Resources