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Motivational Interviewing

adolescent boy sitting during a therapy session learning about motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing involves an interpersonal process between therapist and client. Rather than analysis or dissection of the past, motivational interviewing hinges on cultivating mindsets for desired outcomes. Most importantly, motivational interviewing empowers individuals to troubleshoot and problem-solve for themselves. The concept is that motivation is teachable and, as a result, that action leads to intentional goals. Clients feel a growing sense of self-worth and accountability for important choices by taking more ownership over life circumstances and ongoing commitments. In terms of behavioral health services in Los Angeles, HillsidesCares incorporates motivational interviewing for treating addiction, depression, and various mental health challenges.

What Is Motivational Interviewing?

A fundamental principle of motivational interviewing involves collaboration between client and therapist, more of a conversation than a traditional therapeutic interaction. Through encouraging exploration and ownership of choices, a therapist helps clients feel more invested in decisions and accountable for progress:

  • Evolving conversation – Rather than feeling interrogated, clients report that motivational interviewing feels more like an exchange of ideas or a give and take. By building a more natural relationship with a therapist, clients may uncover personal barriers to achieving outcomes and ways to empower themselves. 
  • Goal-setting – Through ongoing conversation about current circumstances and potentialities, clients begin to examine hopes, visions, and needed tools to create new realities. Practical skills such as goal-setting help clients chunk progress and take more systematic steps toward targeted changes. 
  • Increased autonomy – When clients feel invested in their progress and the goals they’ve set for themselves, they feel empowered to change their own lives. As opposed to following a therapist’s targets for their recovery, motivational interviewing techniques give many clients a growing sense of autonomy over the recovery process. When people delineate their steps or commitments, they feel more accountable and invested in the process. 

Motivational Interviewing Techniques

Identification of goals for change and then how to activate them are critical factors in motivational interviewing. Through several distinct phases, motivational interview techniques help clients move toward new outlooks and outcomes: 

  • Trust and engagement – Like all types of therapies, developing a strong relationship with the therapist factors into the trusted exchanges in the clinical setting. A therapist may approach motivational interviewing through mutual respect and active listening as a fact-finding endeavor. 
  • Developing a key focus – Through ongoing conversation and processing, a client can hone in on a key focus or motivation to bring about the desired change. Rather than tackling many issues at once, motivational interviewing strives to identify main goals and ways to get there. During this stage of motivational interviewing, the therapist and client determine values, what matters to the client, and what they’re hoping to get from their mental health therapy. 
  • Enlisting client input – This phase of motivational interviewing is similar to a buy-in process of what motivates the client to change. Client-focused and generated, the “evoking” stage of motivational interviewing triggers client input on the desired change. A therapist may play devil’s advocate, prompting the client’s ownership of a solution or course of action.
  • Game plan – A game plan or trajectory is agreed upon after goals have been set and the client feels more invested in their problem-solving. Empowered by reasoning out rationale and targets, clients become more open, willing, and motivated to commit to change.

By uncovering one’s motivations for change and reasons for current choices, both therapist and client gain a clearer understanding of cultivating the next steps. Through a heightened awareness of what they’d like to manifest, the client gains a more authentic sense of what needs to happen to reach those goals. 

Find a Motivational Interviewing Program in Los Angeles at HillsidesCares

At HillsidesCares in Los Angeles, motivational interviewing enriches our wide range of mental health therapies and treatment programs. Often used in conjunction with cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and strategies such as mindfulness meditation and motivational interviewing support clients to reach a higher level of self-awareness. Discover how HillsidesCares can further your journey to wellness. Call us at 323.641.4842 to learn more.