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What Is Motivational Interviewing?

a mother holds her teenager daughters hands as they sit on teen's bed and mother explains what is motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a conversational approach designed to help people identify their readiness, willingness, and ability to make a change. It can be valuable and beneficial for young people.

MI acts as a guiding tool to instigate positive behavioral changes. This technique, rooted in empathy and powered by active listening, encourages young individuals to explore their motivations and take ownership of their decisions, leading to more sustainable transformation. Whether tackling academic challenges, social concerns, or personal obstacles, MI can serve as an empowering pathway toward self-driven growth and development.

HillsidesCares provides our clients with a motivational interviewing program for teens and children to create meaningful change. If you are still asking yourself, “What is motivational interviewing, and can it help my child?” Don’t hesitate to reach out to HillsidesCares today by calling us at 323.641.4842. We are available to answer any of your questions or concerns.

What Is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational interviewing is a collaborative, goal-oriented method of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is designed to strengthen an individual’s motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.

This therapeutic approach finds its roots in the field of addiction and substance use treatment. Nowadays, it is widely used in healthcare, social work, and education to facilitate change due to its universal applicability. You can’t fix someone, but you can guide them to find their own motivation for change.

Motivational Interviewing Techniques

Motivational interviewing techniques primarily consist of four key methods: open-ended questions, affirmations, reflective listening, and summaries (OARS).

Open-Ended Questions

Foster a dialogue where individuals can freely express their thoughts, feelings, and motivations.


These statements recognize the individual’s efforts and strengths, fostering self-efficacy.

Reflective Listening

Reflective listening involves the counselor echoing back the individual’s thoughts to show understanding and encourage further exploration.


These are concise recaps of the conversation to reinforce the individual’s self-understanding and commitment to change. These techniques collectively promote an empathetic and non-confrontational conversation that empowers individuals to take charge of their change process.

How Can MI Help Your Child?

Motivational interviewing can significantly aid in your child’s development and growth.

Here are some key ways how:

  • Enhances self-awareness – Children can better understand their thoughts, emotions, and behavior patterns. This increased self-awareness can aid in self-improvement and growth.
  • Improves decision-making skills – MI encourages children to think through their decisions and understand the potential consequences, leading to more mindful decision-making.
  • Boosts self-efficacy – By helping children explore their motivations and take ownership of their decisions, MI can enhance their belief in their capabilities to achieve goals.
  • Fosters resilience – MI helps children to better cope with challenges and adapt to changes, thereby building resilience.
  • Promotes positive behavior change – MI is designed to motivate positive behavior change by helping children identify discrepancies between their current behaviors and their desired goals.

Remember, MI is not about fixing your child. Instead, it’s about guiding them to discover their intrinsic motivation to bring about positive transformations. To that end, our clinicians provide guidance and support as young people take ownership of their decisions and actions. MI can help young people build healthier relationships and cultivate a stronger sense of purpose in a safe space for self-exploration.

Call HillsidesCares for More Information About Motivational Interviewing

If you are still asking yourself, “What is motivational interviewing?” and curious to learn more, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our team is available to answer any of your questions or concerns.

HillsidesCares’s programs focus on the core elements of MI—active listening, expressing empathy and understanding, developing discrepancy between current behavior and desired goals, rolling with resistance, and providing support for autonomy and self-efficacy.

We believe in the power of motivational interviewing to create meaningful and sustainable change. With our comprehensive approach to client-centered care, we can help you and your child take control of their future and reach their maximum potential. Call us today at 323.641.4842 for more information about motivational interviewing and how it can help your child.