What is MI?


William Miller and Stephen Rollnick created Motivational Interviewing (MI). They have described MI as a "collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person's own motivation and commitment to change" (Miller, W. & Rollnick, S., 2013, p. 12).    Formulated in the early 1980s, it has decades of clinical trials showing its efficacy in promoting healthy behavior change and is known to work effectively with a variety of populations. 

 MI is an evidence-based conversational method which:

  • acknowledges that ambivalence is a common aspect of change 
  • focuses on eliciting a person's own motivations for change which can help resolve ambivalence and create effective client-centered change plans
  • encourages a compassionate and goal-oriented partnership with the person who is thinking about making a change, not moving too quickly or too slowly for the client
  • can save providers' time and increases trust in the client-provider relationship

    MI skills clearly focus on talk related to change (desire, ability, reason, need) while concurrently encouraging client empowerment through use of their own ideas, problem-solving,  taking steps, and speech that affirms client autonomy. With the balance between exploring a client's intrinsic motivations for change and a client taking steps that fit their own readiness level, MI ends up increasing the likelihood that change occurs more quickly. Furthermore,  the person is more likely to engage again with that same provider due to feeling heard. The client is likely to increase trust in the  provider's guidance and ideas since MI  promotes respect for the client's wisdom and strengths.

    MI skills have relational and technical components which are taught in training workshops, in individual or group coaching sessions (in-person or telephonic) through written coded feedback, and through learning communities that encourage peer-led continued practice. Common behavioral areas in which MI is used include (but are not limited to): drug and alcohol treatment, diet and exercise, smoking cessation, diabetes management, probation, etc.

    Book reference:
    William Miller and Stephen Rollnick. Motivational Interviewing: helping people change: 3rd edition. New York: Guilford Press. 2013.