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What is motivational interviewing?

Motivational interviewing is an evidence-based approach that is goal orientated and strengthens the individual’s motivation for change

Motivational interviewing is an evidence-based approach that is a “directive, client-centred counselling style for eliciting behaviour change by helping patients to explore and resolve ambivalence”.20

It is goal orientated, with the clinician focusing on intentionally facilitating change for the individual, that is pursuing their goal by eliciting ‘self-motivational’ statements.

It strengthens the individual’s motivation for change by creating a discrepancy between their current situation and the desired one. The aim is for the individual to present the arguments for change rather than against it.20, 21

Positive behaviour change

Motivational interviewing is currently the only method that has consistently demonstrated effective outcomes that are causally and independently associated with positive behaviour change.22

It can be done quite briefly (within 5 minutes) by asking one or two key questions, or it can be practiced more extensively (20-30 minutes) as part of a longer conversation. Alternatively, it can be carried out over the course of a number of follow up sessions.

Watch this short video, hosted on YouTube, which provides an introduction to using motivational interviewing in brief consultations:

Source: BMJ Learning, hosted on Youtube

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