How Motivational Interviewing Can Help Your Recovery

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Motivational Interviewing is a counseling practice that has become frequently used throughout the past few decades. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA) published an article highlighting the benefits of motivational interviewing on the recovery process. They boldly claim motivational interviewing as a more effective, alternative form of counseling. The nice thing about motivational interviewing is that it “meets people where they are,” meaning that whatever stage of the recovery process you are at, there is potential that this tactic can help.

You do not have to be far along for it to be effective. If you are right at the cusp of beginning a treatment program or even just thinking it is time for a change, then motivational interviewing could be a good possible treatment avenue to begin.

What Is Motivational Interviewing?

W. Miller and S. Rollnick, authors of Motivational interviewing: Preparing People to Change, a resource used in writing the SAMHSA article referenced above, describes motivational interviewing (MI) as a “client-centered, directive method for enhancing intrinsic motivation to change by explaining and resolving ambivalence.” MI can even target individuals who have not started thinking about treatment or recovery. It appeals to a person’s values, beliefs, and motivation to change instead of following a specifically prescribed trajectory.

Clinicians will keep in mind basic principles designed to show empathy and support in a way that leads individuals to understand the difference between where they are and where they would like to be. The core principles that lay the foundation for motivational interviewing include:

  1. Express Empathy: a clinician who proves to be empathetic will create a safe, comfortable space for clients. This helps strengthen and improve the therapeutic relationship.
  1. Support Self-Efficacy: some people often feel ready to make a change but lack confidence in their ability to do so. Supporting self-efficacy in MI is meant to help individuals feel more empowered by focusing on their strengths.
  1. Roll with Resistance: resistance can hinder recovery. Motivational interviewing allows someone to express the reasons he or she might want to change, instead of the therapist trying to impose those reasons, avoiding the increase of resistance within the treatment process.
  1. Develop Discrepancy: this principle focuses on helping individuals examine how their current choices fit with their values and goals. This helps create a bridge between where someone is currently and where they would like to be in the future. The clinician will help them to develop a sense of self-awareness in a positive way that allows for focus on values and future hopes as stepping stones toward recovery.

The Effectiveness of Motivational Interviewing in Recovery

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) discusses reviews of clinical trials of motivational interviewing as a counseling style that showed the method as an effective clinical intervention. Presented as an “adaptive therapeutic style worthy of further development, application, and research,” the practice appeals to many because it focuses on a person’s morals, beliefs, and principles. It makes the treatment tailored to each individual, which is helpful because not every proven treatment plan will fit every person.

Nine out of those eleven studies proved motivational interviewing to be more effective than popular alternatives, such as standard care procedures, extended treatment, or waitlisting before receiving an intervention. However, in some circumstances, motivational interviewing may prove to be more effective in conjunction with other treatment plans and methods.

Motivational Interviewing and Long-Term Recovery

Steven Samra, deputy director of SAMHSA’s Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS), has been in recovery from substance use and mental illness since 2000. He discusses living through a crisis while in long-term recovery and mentions motivational interviewing as an effective technique in recovery support. Samra says motivational interviewing techniques can help individuals who are “in the contemplation phase of change.” He also believes therapists should focus on:

  • Helping people become curious about possible solutions to their experiences
  • Reminding individuals of successful strategies used in the past throughout recovery
  • Showing that therapists and case managers are allies in the recovery journey
  • Emphasizing peer support and help from valued family members, friends, and co-workers
  • Never using shame to promote change, and always encouraging positive change

Sure, studies that show the effectiveness of Motivational Interviewing may be chock-full of information, but nothing speaks louder than a personal testimony. Motivational Interviewing is a unique way to foster a recovery in that it empowers those suffering to take control of their recovery. Providers and clients became much more than just “providers,” and “clients” — they became partners and allies working together hand in hand throughout the recovery journey. We believe in implementing MI into our treatment programs, allowing you to feel more confident in your road to recovery.

Motivational Interviewing as a form of counseling can help individuals with substance use disorder take the first steps to seek treatment, take control of their recovery journey, and maintain long-term recovery. It prioritizes the implementation of both empathy and compassion to help people focus on their strengths, morals, and beliefs. According to research and real-life testimonies, you can take comfort in the realization that it is okay to have conflicting thoughts and feelings at whichever point in the treatment or recovery process you may be in. At Lakehouse Recovery Center, we want to work with you to maintain the progress you have already made or help you get started on your recovery today.  We encourage you to seek help either through in-person care available to those in the area or through our virtual recovery platform. Call (877) 762-3707 to find out more about our programs and what help we can offer. Take control over your recovery and allow us to help you in that journey.