Motivational Interviewing Promotes Treatment Engagement, Here’s How

group talking in dark room


Previous research has shown that motivation can serve as a very powerful tool for those in addiction recovery. Intrinsic and extrinsic values often serve as motivation within themselves; for those in addiction recovery, intrinsic values may include the rewarding feeling of working hard for sobriety or the feeling of accomplishment when recovery goals are met, while extrinsic values may include strengthening one’s family ties or being able to gain control back over one’s finances. Motivational interviewing (MI) is meant to help a person find their own personal motivations for recovery with the guidance of a therapist.

With MI, a therapist does not make comments such as “You have a problem”,You need to seek help now” or “Here is what you need to do.” Rather, a therapist will ask open-ended questions to allow the client to conduct their own analysis of their life to determine if they have a problem and if so, what the benefits and risks are of seeking treatment. For example, some questions a therapist may ask include:

  • What do people in your family think your problem is?”
  • How worried are you about the way that your substance use is affecting your life?”
  • “What made you decide to get help now?”
  • “What do you believe you need to do in order to get better?”

A study published in Addiction assessed the mechanisms involved in sessions with clients in which therapists utilized MI and found that “change talk” and “experience of discrepancy” were consistently associated with moving forward to treatment. Change talk is a term often used in MI to describe the client’s mention and discussion of his or her desire, ability, reason, or need to change behavior and their commitment to changing their behavior. Furthermore, experience of discrepancy is a term to express when a client begins to realize potential contradictions between their current actions and who they ideally want to be.

If you or a loved one have been struggling with addiction and are quite apprehensive about the need for treatment, motivational interviewing could be an excellent tool to help uncover some of that mystery. Make the decision today to seek help from a reputable treatment center.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.