Motivational interviewing is a therapeutic technique in which an occupational therapist helps clients work towards a beneficial change in their behaviour. Motivational interviewing is often used to address substance use disorders and physical health conditions such as heart disease. However, research has also shown it to be useful for many individuals who feel unprepared for change. Motivational interviewing can help a person advance through the early stages of contemplation and prepare them to find their motivation to change.
Motivational interviewing evolved from Carl Roger's client-centred, person-centred approach to therapy. Occupational therapists often have two motivational interviewing goals: 1) create motivational statements and behavioural change from the client, and 2) support a client's commitment to changing unwanted behaviours. "The strategies of motivational interviewing are more persuasive than coercive, more supportive than argumentative. The motivational interviewer must proceed with a strong sense of purpose, clear strategies and skills for pursuing that purpose, and a sense of timing to intervene in particular ways at incisive moments" (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment, 1999 p. 40).
Occupational therapists who use motivational interviewing with clients use the following five principles:
Support self-efficacy and optimism
Prevent argument and confrontation
Show empathy through active and reflective listening
Adapt to client resistance rather than confronting it
Address discrepancy between clients' goals and their current behaviour
Reference: Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment. 1999. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64967/