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How to Use Motivational Interviewing to Help your Clients

Updated: Sep 9, 2019


You can give people all the right information, facts, figures, solutions, advantages, and disadvantages, however, these are all useless unless they are internally motivated to change. One way to assist clients in becoming more inspired to change is through a technique called motivational interviewing.

People usually believe what they hear themselves. Motivational interviewing was developed by clinical psychologists Professor William R Miller, Ph.D. and Professor Stephen Rollnick, Ph.D in order to help clients with just that. Hear what they need themselves. It was created to give clients choice and control and help elicit change.

Bottom line, your client needs to come up with their own solutions, rather than you telling them what they need.

We need to respect our client's choices. Their responsibility to make choices. Their resources to make those choices. Even respecting that the client may not be ready for change.

Take these two examples:

Example 1: Forced control

Case manager As I said many times, I really think that you need to see a psychologist. You’ve been through a lot of trauma and have lost so much.

Client I don’t think I need to see anyone. I will be fine and plus I don’t want a stranger knowing about my personal issues.

Case manager Trust me this psychologist will help you. They are an expert and have helped many people in your position before.

Client Yes but I’m not sure about this. I feel okay now and will manage.

Case manager Yes but the last time you expressed that you have depression and suicidal thoughts. Trust me, it’s important.

Client Look! I’m fine. Why do you need to bring this up. I’m getting better.

(These pushy statements by the case manager in this example, will only create more resistance and resentment.)

Example 2: Autonomy Support

Case manager How do you feel about going to see a psychologist?

Client I’m not too sure about it. I don’t want my privacy invaded.

Case manager That’s totally understandable. Tell me a little about what is going on with you at the moment?

Client I’m not sure. I just have no energy to wake up in the morni