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Topic 5 – Motivational Interviewing

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Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a therapeutic paradigm or communication style developed by William Miller and Stephen Rollnick that actively engages individuals in eliciting the necessary motivation and resources to make positive change. Covering the skills and components of MI is beyond the scope of this module so only the broad concepts will be reviewed here.

Click each heading for more information.

The Spirit of MI refers to the primacy of the relationship between client and helper and warns against a focus on technique and theory.

Collaboration and working together is privileged over enacting hierarchies and power differentials.

Resistance/Discord does not reside in the people we seek to help but is a dynamic created between us. Our job is to meet discord with flexibility.

Ambivalence is a common experience for people wanting or needing to make change. Working directly with ambivalence by evaluating the costs and the benefits of change can be useful for all parties.

Motivational interviewing encourages compassionate alliance building while simultaneously honing a special kind of listening for the clients’ own expressed motivation for change.

“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Words used by Lilla Watson, Indigenous elder, activist and educator from Queensland, Australia.

The following videos provide an overview of Motivational Interviewing:

Sewing the Seeds of Motivation

Introduction to Motivational Interviewing


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