What Does “Change Talk” Mean in Reference to Motivational Interviewing?


time for change

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a therapy style that utilizes empathetic, non-confrontational approaches to help people make their own realizations about their need for change. MI is centered in active listening through which the therapist serves as a reinforcer for change and appreciates the person’s willingness to explore options. “Change talk” is the mentioning of a person’s desire, ability, reason, and need to change their behavior. The belief is that a person is more likely to change and stick with it if they personally invest in their recovery plan.

According to Dr. Glovsky, PhD, on Recovery Today Online, a source for information regarding treatment, professional interests, training, and employment needs in the recovery field, MI therapists listen for the following things:

Desire: Why would you want to make this change?

Ability: How would you do it if you decided?

Reason: What are the three best reasons?

Need: How important is it, and why?

Commitment: What do you think you’ll do?

When it comes to addiction recovery, people often have a difficult time accepting that they need help. For a therapist, MI is a safe platform for which a person can openly explore their thoughts and options without having someone try to coerce them into it. As the therapist listens, the person can explain how they feel and can play around with different outcomes.

There are several strategies that a therapist may use to help a person talk about change: asking questions, exploring what’s good and bad about their current circumstance, asking for elaboration, asking the person what they would change from their past if they could, asking the person to imagine what could continue happening in the future, having the client assess the best and worst case scenarios for making the change, using scales to help a person identify the seriousness of different outcomes for them, and much more. MI can be a very effective technique, as it gives people the autonomy to choose recovery for themselves.

If you’re considering seeking treatment, call a reputable treatment center today to get more information. Take that first step towards gaining back control over your life.

Located in Orange County, CA, Simple Recovery is a world-renowned drug and alcohol treatment center that believes that recovery is a process, not a destination. Our Simple Recovery programs include a variety of resources such as relapse prevention and support, group and individual therapy, vocational and educational programming, and more. If you’re in search of freedom from addiction, call us today at 888-743-0490. Recovery is possible.