Motivational interviewing (MI) refers to a counselling approach in part developed by clinical psychologists Professor William R Miller, Ph.D. and Professor Rollnick Ph.D. It is a client-centered, semi-directive method of engaging intrinsic motivation to change behavior by developing discrepancy and exploring and resolving ambivalence within the client.

Motivational Interviewing, I believe is closely linked and shares many aspects of effective NLP in it’s attitudes and skills.

It is an approach to interviewing and information gathering; although distinct from NLP (neuro-linguistic-programming) it shares many similarities with NLP. The goal of the process is to have the client self activate the change they desire while handling in a non judgmental way, the ambivalence around change. Rapport building, described by MI as empathy and open questioning is similar to NLP meta-model questions. These open questions often begin with; where, when, or how. In addition there is reflective listening which ties in again with meta-modeling principles and feeding back in a way that recognizes strengths (re-frames) and choices. It is a process that encourages the client to discover their answers to their challenges and engages with change at the pace and speed that is right for the client. The pass and speed of that change is decided through collaboration between therapist and client born out of the clients preferred map.

Motivational interviewing recognises and accepts the fact that clients who need to make changes in their lives approach counselling at different levels of readiness to change their behavior. If the counselling is mandated they may never have thought of changing the behaviour in question. Some may have thought about it but not taken steps to change it. Others, especially those voluntarily seeking help, may be actively trying to change their behaviour and may have been doing so unsuccessfully for years.

Motivational interviewing is client and goal centered, non-judgmental, non-confrontational and non-adversarial. The approach attempts to increase the client's awareness of the potential problems caused, consequences experienced, and risks faced as a result of the behaviour in question. Alternately, therapists help clients envisage a better future, and become increasingly motivated to achieve it. Either way, the strategy seeks to help clients think differently about their behaviour and ultimately change it.
Motivational interviewing is considered to be both client-centered and semi-directive. It departs from traditional Rogerian client-centered therapy through this use of direction, in which therapists attempt to influence clients to consider making changes, rather than non-directively exploring them themselves.

Motivational interviewing is based upon four general principles:

1.Express empathy, guides therapists to share with clients their understanding of the clients' perspective.

2.Develop discrepancy, guides therapists to help clients appreciate the value of change by exploring the discrepancy between how clients want their lives to be vs. how they currently are (or between their deeply-held values and their day-to-day behavior.

3.Roll with resistance, guides therapists to accept client reluctance to change as natural rather than pathological.

4.Support self-efficacy, guides therapists to explicitly embrace client autonomy (even when clients choose to not change) and help clients move toward change successfully and with confidence.

The main goals of motivational interviewing are to establish rapport, elicit change talk and establish commitment language from the client.

Motivational Interviewing is gaining recognition. It has a well researched evidence based effectiveness particularly in the area of addiction but definitely has potential across all areas where change, ambivalence and influence are required.

Author's Bio: 

Matthew Ferguson SQHP
(Clinical hypnotherapist, Trainer of Hypnotherapy and NLP, Stress Consultant and Authentic Happiness Coach) Matthew runs a training school in Scotland teaching Hypnotherapy, NLP and Coaching to learn more and to read more Articles by Matthew visit If you are a Facebook user please click on our Follow us on Facebook button on the web site and click the like button. You will be kept up to date with the latest articles, information and free downloads.