Copyright © 2014 Dr Alex Fowke. All Rights Reserved.
Motivational Interviewing (MI) was developed in the 1980s by two Clinical Psychologists,
Professors William Miller and Stephen Rollnick. It's described as "a collaborative conversation style
for strengthening a person's own motivation and commitment to change" (from Helping People Change,
The aim of MI is to evoke and strengthen personal motivation to change using specific skills,
allowing clients to make their own choices, explore their ambivalence about change, and try to
resolve this ambivalence in the direction of change.
Whilst MI developed out of the field of addictions, there is a wide body of research suggesting
that MI can be an effective strategy in supporting people and help them change different types
of behaviour in better service of their personal values.
Making a commitment to engage in behavioural change is a difficult step to take, and it's understandable that clients sometimes struggle to make the changes that may be required in order to develop a life worth living. This might be because some unhelpful behavioural patterns are long-standing and familiar; it might be because it's hard to find a reason to change in the first place. Alternatively, change may simply seem to be too difficult or painful.
Clients sometimes come to therapy when the 'pressure' (albeit well-meaning) to change comes from outside the individual; clients are encouraged to change by partners, family members, parents, employers, friends or even the legal system. Whilst it's possible that this external motivation to change could lead you to make some useful changes, these are likely to be changes that others find desirable and your personal motivation would probably be rather low. In these cases it's probable that any changes made would be short-lived and familiar patterns would be likely to re-appear. When your motivation to change comes from inside, you are likely to be more compelled to make changes as they have more personal meaning. These are the types of changes that tend to be maintained over time. As such, the development of this internal motivation is the core focus of MI.
Whilst MI isn't a discrete form of psychotherapy per se, it is an effective as a strategy on its own to faciliate motivation to change. It is also invaluable as a tool to use in conjunction with other treatment strategies - particularly CBT - when exploring a client's difficulties, especially when there is a certain degree of ambivalence or uncertainty about making change, or when motivation is low.
I have specific training in the use of MI and am adherent to its core principles. In our sessions I can use MI to help explore your uncertainty about making effective changes, as well as strengthen your own internal motivation and commitment to change. MI makes use of specific skills to help you gain a clearer sense of what your goals for therapy might be, what the benefits of change might be, and how to build on your confidence to make the changes you want.