Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational Interviewing (MI)conceptualized in the early 1980’s by William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, focuses on resolving ambivalence surrounding behavior change and recognizes that there are different levels of readiness to change. This interviewing approach is not coercive or confrontational like previous substance abuse treatment.

Instead MI focuses on fostering the development of one’s intrinsic motivation for change. MI acknowledges that people are at different stages of readiness to change. These five stages follow a progression of readiness (Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action & Maintenance)

Pre-contemplation– is where the individual has no intention to change and an un-awareness of the problem itself

Contemplation– Is when there is an acknowledgement of awareness of the consequences and there is serious thought about change, but no commitment has been made

Preparation– Where there is an intention to act and small or “baby steps” towards action

Action-There is an active effort to modify one’s behaviors, experience and/or environment in an effort to change

Maintenance- Where there is an effort to prevent previous behavior (i.e.- relapsing) and an active effort to maintain the changed/desired behavior

MI has been deemed an evidence based practice among substance abusers and is supported by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration).MI has received support for being used with issues other than substance abuse. It is common to combine MI with other treatment (i.e.- CBT).


Miller and Rollnick text – Motivational Interviewing, Preparing people for change (2nd Edition) 2002

Norcross, J.C., Krebs, P.M. & Prochaska, J.O. (2011) Stages of Change, Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 67(2), 143-154. 

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA)