Motivational interviewing (MI) is a counseling approach used in mental health and addiction treatment to motivate patients to change destructive behaviors. MI was first described by Professor William R. Miller, Ph.D. in 1983 and has since been used in the treatment of substance use and mental health disorders. A lack of motivation to quit drugs and alcohol is often the source of relapse or premature discharge from rehab, despite the numerous health issues, relationship programs, financial struggles, and legal consequences of addiction. Motivational interviewing is offered at both of our Clearbrook rehab facilities – Clearbrook Massachusetts and Clearbrook Pennsylvania – to help patients understand their conditions and develop the independence needed to remain sober after rehab.


Why Motivational Interviewing is Effective

The thought behind motivational interviewing for substance abuse is that all people dealing with addiction are at least partially aware of the negative consequences of their drug or alcohol use. MI is also based on the belief that each person is in a state of readiness when it comes to changing their behavior.

Motivational therapy activities are designed to prepare patients by helping them overcome ambivalence or a fear of change and increase their motivation to change. Many people with substance use disorders lack the motivation to accept treatment and change the course of their lives for several reasons.

Firstly, they’re in denial about their problem or don’t think it’s as serious as it is. Secondly, they don’t want to give up the positive feeling that drugs or alcohol may produce. Lastly, they’re afraid of what will happen when they quit drugs or alcohol, such as withdrawal symptoms or cravings.

Many people who have dealt with addiction for a long time go through a stage of grief in the early phases of recovery. Motivational interviewing is effective for treating addiction because it helps the individual see their strengths and abilities regarding recovery and changing their lives.


Motivational Interviewing for Substance Abuse at Clearbrook

Motivational interviewing and substance abuse treatment go hand in hand, and when applying this method to our levels of substance abuse treatment, there are seven key points of MI that our therapists maintain:

  1. Motivation comes from the client, not from outside sources (such as spouses or family members).
  2. The client is responsible for resolving ambivalence or fear of change, not the counselor.
  3. Ambivalence cannot be resolved through direct persuasion; the person has to want to change.
  4. The counselor quietly elicits information from the client.
  5. The counselor guides the patient in recognizing and settling ambivalence.
  6. Understanding that readiness to change is a fluctuating result of interpersonal interaction, not a trait.
  7. The client-counselor relationship should resemble a partnership.

Additionally, motivational interviewing is a fairly simple process that is usually completed in a few one-on-one sessions. The typical steps of MI sessions are:

  • Engaging: Talking to the client about issues, concerns, and hopes, and establishing a trusting relationship with them
  • Focusing: Focusing the conversation on the patterns and habits the client wants to change
  • Evoking: Bringing about client motivation by expressing the importance of change, confidence in their ability to change, and readiness for change
  • Planning: Developing a set of practical steps the client can use to implement the desired changes

MI is a client-centered model of addiction counseling designed to help clients realize and figure out what they want to change instead of focusing on what the counselor would want them to change. Although counselors are there to offer guidance and properly administer this therapeutic approach, the benefits of motivational interviewing include self-awareness, accountability, and dependence, each of which the individual has to want to strive for.


Get Started Today

A lack of motivation can determine the course of a person’s recovery and whether they accept treatment, to begin with. If you or someone you know requires addiction treatment but is hesitant to take that first step, we can help.

To learn how to get started with our motivational interviewing or other special programs and therapies, contact Clearbrook today. Our team members are available 24/7 to answer your questions and help you with the admissions process.

Alumni Testimonial

“Throughout my addiction, I always felt alone. I thought no one understood what I was going through and felt as though I was always being judged. As my addiction progressed, I began to isolate more and more. I couldn’t stand the person I was becoming, so I hid from the world.  Before I knew it, I had no one else around. I was alone. When I first arrived at Clearbrook, I was terrified. I didn’t know what to expect. Then the most surprising thing happened. The other patients and staff welcomed me with open arms. The bond I created with my counselor and other staff was absolutely amazing, but also surprising, because for so long I struggled to really trust anyone. I feel as though I have gained tremendous knowledge about my disease and recovery in the different groups I attended. It also allowed me to practice getting comfortable talking about my feelings in front of other people and made meeting new people in AA much easier. Going to Clearbrook is by far the best decision I have ever made. They treat you like family and I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. No matter where I go in life or what it has to offer, I know that I am not alone and I’ll always have a place to turn.”

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