Motivational Interviewing (MI)

The first paper on Motivational Interviewing was published in 1983 by Dr. W.R. Miller, and later expanded on with Dr. S. Rollnick. It is defined as “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.” (Miller & Rollnick, 2013, pg. 29)

MI is an evidence-based communication style

  • Supported by 200+ clinical trials and 1000+ publications across a spectrum of health and social concerns
  • Identified as Best Practice within a number of health and social service areas
  • Proven to reduce resistance & increase readiness for change, both in-person and virtual environments
  • A brief intervention
  • Learnable, measurable, and effective cross-culturally
  • Complimentary with other treatment approaches

MI helps us think differently about change

  • Information alone is not synonymous with change
  • No person is completely unmotivated
  • Ambivalence to change is normal
  • Motivation and discord are highly responsive to practitioner style
  • What people say about change impacts whether or not it will happen
  • The greater the discord in a session, the poorer the outcome

MI is particularly helpful when

  • Motivation is low and there are mixed feelings about changing
  • Treatment engagement is a challenge
  • There is difficulty in making changes

A Selection of Readings

Overview articles

Miller, W.R. & Rose, G.S. (2009). Toward a theory of motivational interviewing. American Psychologist, 64(6), 527-537.

Miller, W.R. & Rollnick, S. (2009).  Ten things that motivational interviewing is not. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 37, 129-140.


Arkowitz, H., Miller, W.R. & Rollnick, S. (Eds). (June 2015). Motivational Interviewing in the Treatment of Psychological Problems, 2nd ed. New York: Guilford Press.

Herman, K.C., Reinke, W.M., Frey, A.J., Shepard, S.A. (2014). Motivational Interviewing in Schools: Strategies for Engaging Parents, Teachers and Students. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Hohman, M. (2011). Motivational interviewing in social work practice. New York: The Guilford Press.

Miller, W.R. & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change, 3rd ed. New York: Guilford Press.

Miller, W.R., C’de Baca, J. (2001). Quantum change: When epiphanies and sudden insights transform ordinary lives. New York: The Guilford Press.

Naar-King, S., Suarez, M. (2011). Motivational interviewing with adolescents and young adults. New York: The Guilford Press.

Rollnick, S., Miller, W.R., & Butler, C.C. (2008). Motivational interviewing in health care: Helping patients change behavior. New York: The Guilford Press.

Rosengren, D. (2009). Building motivational interviewing skills: a practitioner workbook. New York: The Guilford Press.

Wagner, C.C. & Ingersoll, K.S. (2013). Motivational Interviewing in Groups. New York: Guilford Press.

Westra, H.A. (May 2012). Motivational interviewing in the treatment of anxiety. New York: Guilford Press.

Cultural adaptation

Venner, K.L., Feldstein, S. & Tafoya, N. (2006). Native American Motivational Interviewing: Weaving Native American and Western Practices. 

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