I was fortunate enough to be amongst the primary wave of individuals within the UK to be trained in Motivational Interviewing by the originators of this counseling approach, Dr. Bill Miller and Dr. Steve Rollnick. It’s hard to elucidate now, thirty years on, how exciting it had been to be at the very beginning of something which was so important within the world of psychotherapy. It changed my life.
Anyway, this tiny article contains all you actually got to realize the mysterious art of Motivational Interviewing and why it’s so important within the world of counseling and psychotherapy.
Motivational Interviewing was originally conceived by Dr. Bill Miller, an American university lecturer, and psychotherapist, back in 1983 during a seminal article that discussed health behavior change for problem drinkers. His ideas developed and people collaborated, most notably, Dr. Steve Rollnick, until towards the top of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s when a fresh therapeutic discipline emerged called Motivational Interviewing.
MI (as it’s known) is vital because it is one of only two complete ways of counseling. the opposite being what’s known interchangeably as either Humanistic Counselling or Rogerian Counselling or, most ordinarily, person-centered Counselling. This style was developed by Rogers within the 1950s as an alternative to medical help and drugs for emotional problems.
Why is MI important?
Before MI came along the planet of the psychological intervention was really dominated by just three sorts of help. At one end of the spectrum were doctors, psychiatrists, and drugs, and at the opposite end was “counseling” and somewhere within the middle were clinical therapies, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (along with several other hundred variations) that believed change was dependent upon one or more assumptions, such as, change depends upon education, or behavior training or insight, etc…
MI changed all that. A central tenant of MI is that we modify once we want to, and sometimes counseling, medication, doctors, therapy, counseling doesn’t really work, because, at heart, we just haven’t really decided to vary! MI seeks to resolve that ambiguity and believes that once we are truly determined to change, we will. It’s as simple as that.
To give the approach some shape, Bill and Steve developed what they ask because of the 4 principles of MI. These are:
Roll with Resistance
Support Self Efficacy
A bit later within the development, they added:
Avoid Arguments (which in therapy is usually an honest idea!)
Along with these guiding principles they also, rather helpfully, came up with an inventory of strategies for MI practitioners. These are:
Reflective Listening (which is really a huge and highly skillful area of MI)
Elicit self-motivational statements (ie, talking about change)
Apart from these nuts and bolts, there’s what has become referred to as the Spirit of MI. This includes everything else that cannot be easily listed or labeled. It doesn’t last long and tends to “cut to the guts of the matter” (as Bill would often say). the quality Motivational Enhancement Therapy (the therapy version of MI) for people that have problems with alcohol is simply four sessions and an assessment. Compared with CBT or most other sorts of help that tend to last a minimum of 16 sessions, and sometimes much, much more, this is often wonderfully brief, and even as effective.
I hope this text has been useful and sums up the most elements of MI and puts it into some quiet context.
Thanks for reading.