What Is Motivational Interviewing?
Motivation is often falsely perceived as an innate capability or characteristic. However, more accurately, it is a socially influenced quality related to a person’s desire to pursue a goal or act in a particular way. Notably, this quality is instilled or enhanced within an individual if they are ready to accept change. Motivational interviewing does just that; it is a counseling style that challenges people to develop the internal motivations necessary to counteract or change certain behaviors they consider problematic in their lives. This form of counseling can act as a precursor to other psychological interventions, work in adjunct to psychotherapy, or be a stand-alone technique to change a particular behavior. Changing negative behaviors allows people to develop healthier choices, which, in turn, affects long-term physical and mental health outcomes. Motivational interviewing is useful for individuals who have addictions or physical health issues and for those who lack motivation, display hostility or are unready to commit to change. The main goal is to elicit self-motivation by helping people see how tapping into motivation and generating lasting change are possible and accessible.
Effectiveness of Motivational Interviewing
Motivational interviewing is very effective in many ways. For example, it was found to improve treatment outcomes (i.e., how well the therapy improves a client’s symptoms) for individuals with anxiety disorders when used as an adjunct to cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders.
In a 2017 study, a group of Australian psychological researchers found that two motivational interviewing sessions that lasted for as little as 15 minutes were effective in enhancing clients’ attendance in mental health treatment. Motivational interviewing may also improve health care management for adolescents with chronic illness and enhance group treatment engagement for adolescents with anxiety and mood disorders. As an additive value, motivational interviewing helped improve symptoms of depression in clients in primary care settings. Additionally, substantial evidence indicates that combining motivational interviewing with other existing treatments enhances overall treatment engagement.
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