Module 9: working with young people on AOD issues: facilitator's guide

4.1 Introduction to motivational interviewing

Page last updated: 2004

Issue of motivation
What is motivational interviewing?
The key principles of motivational interviewing
Overhead transparency

Issue of motivation

The issue of motivation is often raised in discussions about young people and also in relation to AOD use.

The main idea of motivational interviewing is to purposefully create a conversation around change, without attempting to convince the person of the need to change or instructing them about how to change.

Motivational interviewing is a therapeutic approach that was originally developed in the alcohol and other drug field by William Miller and Stephen Rollnick (Miller, 1983; Miller & Rollnick, 1991).

This approach utilises the principles and practices of client-centred counselling to encourage the client to move through the stages of change and to make personal choices along the way. Client resistance is viewed as evidence of conflict or ambivalence and is met with reflection rather than a confrontational style (Rollnick & Miller, 1995).

Ask learners to read the article 'What is motivational interviewing?' (Rollnick & Miller, 1995) before answering the following questions in their Learner's Workbook.

What is motivational interviewing?

Workplace learning activity/writing exercise

Question - Reflect on the points made in the article under the subheading 'The Spirit of Motivational Interviewing'. How do these ideas compare with your current work with young people?

Question - How might motivational interviewing be used in your work with young people? Top of page

Group/brainstorm activity

Learners to discuss their responses in groups, considering the positives and negatives of motivational interviewing in various types of treatment settings.

The key principles of motivational interviewing

The following are the key principles of motivational interviewing.

Express empathy

  • Acceptance facilitates change
  • Skilful reflection is fundamental
  • Ambivalence is normal.

Develop discrepancy

  • Awareness of consequences is important
  • A discrepancy between present behaviour and important goals will motivate change.

Avoid argument

  • Arguments are counterproductive
  • Defending breeds defensiveness
  • Resistance is a signal to change strategies
  • Labelling is unnecessary for change.

Roll with resistance

  • Momentum can be used to good advantage
  • Perceptions can be shifted
  • New perspectives are invited but not imposed.

Support self-efficacy

  • The belief in the possibility of change is an important motivator
  • The client is responsible for choosing and carrying out personal change
  • Client should present arguments for change.Top of page

Overhead transparency

Key principles of motivational interviewing

  • Express empathy
  • Develop discrepancy
  • Avoid argument
  • Roll with resistance
  • Support self-efficacy.