5 Key Insights from Motivational Interviewing

It’s hard to motivate someone else. Luckily, the evidence-based practice of Motivational Interviewing (MI for short) can offer us some practical advice on the matter.

What is MI? Here’s one definition by Miller & Rollnick (2013):

“MI is a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is designed to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.”

This approach is useful when any of the following are present:

  • Ambivalence is high, and people are feeling stuck in mixed feelings about change
  • Confidence in their own abilities to change is low
  • People feel uncertain about whether they want to make a change
  • The benefits and disadvantages of the current situation are unclear
  1. It takes time to question your own beliefs.
  2. We are much more motivated by reasons we have come up with ourselves than what others tell us.
  3. When other people tell us what to think or do, it often triggers resistance.
  4. Any threat to our sense of freedom to choose for ourselves triggers a feeling of wanting to reclaim our autonomy.
  5. We are more motivated by what we hear ourselves say, and the arguments we develop ourselves, than by what other people tell us.

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