Motivational interviewing is a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is designed to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion. (Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change. William R Miller, PhD, Stephen Rollnick, PhD. Guilford Press, Sep 2012.)
Motivational interviewing is nothing more than, or less than, a helpful conversation about change. Its based upon the kind of helpfulness observed in teachers, coaches, and helpers of all kinds, with an additional element: the person in the helping role uses listening and other skills to evoke a person’s own good reasons to change. Its focus is on the language people use when they talk about change. Much like a form of dancing, it can be described in terms of both style and technical detail. How and why it works, when it does, is an open question. MI was developed inductively, from clinical practice in very tough conversations about change, and provides a route to change that avoids confrontation, argument and time wasted on often fruitless efforts to instill motivation in others.
Professor Rollnick explains the background and current status of motivational interviewing in this recent presentation at the Scottish Winter School of MI, 2012.