The Context for Motivational Interviewing and Skills Training

As the client expresses increasing interest in addressing his or her problems modifying use, the counselor carefully supports these efforts to change without prescribing the change. When the client expresses a commitment to change, the counselor asks the client about the steps he or she will take to make the change. The counselor provides a menu of self-change and assisted-change options depending on the client’s inclinations and experience in making changes.

It is important for the counselor to show genuine interest in the client’s perspectives on and skills for making change. For example, if the client has quit smoking tobacco, lost a lot of weight, or left a destructive relationship, the counselor explores these experiences to reinforce and highlight the client’s capacity and desire for self-development. Self-change advice may be in the form of a brief written handout concerning behavioral changes. Sessions 1 and 2 provide several take-home handouts that reinforce motivational advice given by the counselor during the sessions. These handouts are available at the end of this section.

Tips for the Counselor

• Review relevant sections of the manual before each session.

• Develop a natural style of conveying the material; avoid reading text to clients.

• Maintain a motivational style; use open-ended questions and reflections; and avoid a directive, resistance-building style.

• Encourage involvement and participation by the client.

• Attend to shifts in the client’s motivation and readiness for change.

• Explain practice exercises carefully; probe for the client’s understanding.