Motivational Therapy is a collaboration of cognitive-behavioral strategies coupled with a positive approach to psychotherapy focused on increasing a stronger sense of self and an individual’s ability to grow into their best self. The initial application of Motivational Therapy began in substance abuse treatment.
Motivational Therapy focuses on specific problems with the goal of facilitating and encouraging an empathetic, compassionate relationship between the therapist and client. The role of the therapist is to gently guide their patients to reconsider their current behavior and help build an internal desire to change. With this in mind, a primary differentiator of Motivational Therapy is that the therapist refrains from challenging or contradicting the client to preserve the relationship and guide the individual to challenge their own assumptions and behaviors and in turn, build internal motivation.
Motivational Therapy highlights an individual’s self-sufficiency and ability to engage in self-discovery and helps individuals move towards a behavior change without pressure from an outside source so that the change is lasting.
Motivational Interviewing is a type of Motivational Therapy and is a client-centered directive counseling style with the objective of eliciting behavioral change. In this particular counseling, approach clients are assisted in exploring and resolving ambivalence to change. The resolution of ambivalence is the primary differentiator of Motivational Interviewing from other Motivational Therapy methods.
Motivational Interviewing is identified as a spirit of collaboration between the therapist and client in which warmth, empathy, and acceptance are paramount. This evidence-based approach is goal-directed with the intent of moving an individual through the stages of change towards their stated goal. Unlike some theories of change, Motivational Interviewing is focused in the present and works to access motivation to change behavior that is not in line with an individual’s values or goals.
Motivational Interviewing techniques initially evolved from the treatment of individuals with problematic drinking behavior. Motivational Interviewing acknowledges and is based on the premise that individuals who need to make changes in their lives are at various points of readiness to change their behavior. Some individuals may be aware that change is needed but are not prepared or aware of the steps they need to take to actually move forward with change. Others, are already in the change process. Regardless of the current state, individuals are able to build internal motivation and move forward with the desired change.
Motivational Interviewing and Substance Abuse
Motivational Interviewing is highly recognized and used in the field of substance abuse recovery as well as across other disciplines. Many times an individual with substance use disorders struggle to elicit motivation to stop their unhealthy behavior despite failing health, relational difficulties, and legal consequences. Whether an individual enters treatment voluntarily, due to social pressure or is required to attend due to legal requirements, Motivational Interviewing has been effective in helping individuals resolve their ambivalence for change and begin to make a plan and engage in the steps required for change.
Our treatment program uses the principles of Motivational Interviewing to help our clients move towards sobriety and lasting change in their lives. We do this through:
Engaging: Conversing through individual and group meetings about a client’s issues, concerns, and hopes for the future.
Focusing: Clarifying the conversation to patterns of behaviors that an individual wants to change.
Evoking: Increasing motivation to change by helping an individual experience the importance of change and confidence that change is possible while preparing them to make significant life changes.
Planning: Offering practical steps and tools that an individual may use to implement their desired change as a part of each group or activity planned throughout their stay and creating a viable discharge plan to support an individual to maintain sobriety long-term.
Motivational Interviewing Stages of Change
When an individual enters treatment, they may be at any point in the change process. In total, Motivational Interviewing identifies six stages of change through which the techniques of Motivational Interviewing are designed to help an individual move. The stages are as follows:
- Stage 1: Precontemplation: In this first stage, an individual may be experiencing some negative consequences of their behavior or substance abuse but does not identify the issue as being serious enough for them to consider changing their behavior. In the contemplation stage, individuals have minimal interest or motivation to change.
- Stage 2: Contemplation: During the contemplation stage, an individual may recognize their behavior as problematic but remains ambivalent about changing it. The individual has considered making a change or may desire to change but has not made a commitment to do so at this time. Someone may be open to feedback from others about the need to change but has not attempted to change their behavior or stop their substance use.
- Stage 3: Preparation: During this stage, an individual has considered the positive and negative aspects of their current behavior and determined that the negative aspects are greater than the benefits they are receiving. The individual has made a commitment to change and internalizes their personal responsibility to make the change. They may have a plan or begin to consider how they might change but has not taken action at this time.
- Stage 4: Action: In the action stage, an individual is actively involved in an effort to change their behavior. At any point that an individual makes effort to change their behavior, they are considered to be in the action stage. The individual understands that they must change their behavior or terminate substance abuse and that they are the one who must make the change.
- Stage 5: Maintenance: In the maintenance stage, in an individual has grown to a level of efficiency that allows them to change their behavior and has likely established new behavioral patterns. The individual is still working on change but has become proficient at the actions required to maintain long-term change.
- Stage 6: Termination: In this final stage, an individual has applied all the changes needed and is able to manage new barriers or obstacles they may encounter. They may still continue to receive support from a formal program such as therapy or community-based meetings but they have resolved any ambivalence in regards to changing behaviors, and have implemented and maintained new behaviors.
Apex staff and clinicians are trained in Motivational Interviewing techniques and apply it in a variety of contexts throughout the treatment program. Clinicians and staff work collaboratively with our clients to identify an individual’s current readiness to change and throughout treatment, identify barriers and resolutions that may exist to help an individual move towards greater readiness or maintenance of change. We understand and respect that the circumstances that have brought someone into treatment at any particular moment are unique, just as each client is unique. Our trained team strives to use treatment methods that focus on meeting a client’s specific and unique goals. Motivational Interviewing is one client-centered approach that has proven very effective in helping clients align their values with their desired behavior and break free of behaviors that have been preventing that alignment in the past.