Motivational Interviewing (MI) is one of the most common treatment approaches used by outpatient addiction treatment centers.
Its primary goal is to help an addict resolve ambivalence and to make changes in their behaviors which may trigger substance abuse. Ambivalence entails an individual having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.
This method of treatment was founded by Professors Stephen Rollnick and William R. Miller and was originally devised as a treatment plan for alcoholics. However, MI can also be applied to treat substance abusers. Many addicts that receive this kind of treatment have already expressed the will to change their behaviors. Otherwise, they would have never agreed to pursue drug rehabilitation. Following through on that will to change is often another story.
There are four distinct strategies of motivational interviewing, also referred to as “OARS”.
- The ability to answer open ended questions. Open ended questions encourage the patient to share their story which they will often be happy to do.
- Providing affirmation. Providing a patient with affirmation allows them to see their own strengths and see themselves in a positive light.
- Being able to listen reflectively. Reflective listening allows the patient to listen to themselves objectively which could allow them to hear their own inconsistencies.
- Being able to provide summary. The summary process highlights the most important takeaways from the counseling session and helps both therapist and patient foresee possible solutions that will lead to changed behaviors.
On some occasions, there is resistance by the patient during meetings. As a remedy, the therapist may avoid further argument with the patient. The therapist will then acknowledge that they’re listening attentively to the patient and encourage them to come up with solutions on their own rather than forcing suggestions.
When combined with other addiction treatment therapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), motivational interviewing can provide a patient with the knowledge and tools to live a healthy and rewarding life in addiction recovery.