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For many people, it’s easy to set goals. However, achieving those goals can be difficult. Low self-esteem and unrealistic expectations have the power to hold many individuals back from reaching their full potential. Luckily, there are counseling techniques that specifically address this phenomenon. At Banyan Mental Health, we offer motivational interviewing therapy to help clients develop a sense of empowerment, so they feel more equipped to address their mental health disorders, stick with treatment, and learn how to apply what they learn at our facilities at home.
How Does Motivational Interviewing Work?
Motivational interviewing (MI) is a therapy approach that helps patients identify problems, develop goals, and set a plan to achieve those goals. This therapy approach is very verbal and patient-driven, helping patients to feel more capable of enacting real change in their lives. The four processes or stages of change motivational interviewing are:
- Engaging: The first stage helps patients discuss their issues, problems, and hopes. This is done in a non-judgmental fashion so that a greater sense of patient empowerment is achieved. Supporting autonomy is another key factor in this stage.
- Focusing: A therapist then helps the patient to focus on opportunities for change and growth, often working to change negative habits and thought patterns. Collaboration between the client and counselor is also crucial to determine a shared purpose, which grants the worker the ability to apply a more directional tone.
- Evoking: In the evoking step, the therapist helps the client find their internal motivation to make positive changes and solve the problems they have just identified. This step is imperative in improving the patient’s readiness to change.
- Planning: Finally, the planning stage kicks into action. It is at this time that the patient identifies and develops realistic and practical steps they can take to achieve their goals.
With the four motivational interviewing stages of change, patients can gain responsibility and the ability to improve their current situations. When a patient is truly committed to changing for the better, the possibilities are endless. Every person holds within them the potential for greatness. Sometimes it is simply a matter of standing in our own way.
The saying goes that we are often our own worst enemies, which means that these negative thought patterns can become so normalized that we forget they are there. That sadly doesn’t mean they won’t still inform us of our behaviors and abilities. Through the use of motivational therapy techniques, patients can learn to become more aware of these instances so they can one day break away from them altogether.
The Core Elements of Motivational Interviewing
Ultimately, there are many variations to this technique. That being said, there are still certain beliefs that fuel the motivational interviewing method.
Motivational interviewing therapists practice with:
- Partnership: MI is a collaborative process in which the MI practitioner is the expert in helping people change and become experts in their lives.
- Evocation: People have the resources and skills needed to change themselves. Motivational interviewing therapy is meant to draw out the person’s priorities, values, and wisdom to explore reasons for change and support it.
- Compassion: The MI practitioners at Banyan’s facilities for mental health take a non-judgmental approach to promote and prioritize clients’ welfare and well-being selflessly and lovingly.
Motivational interviewing therapy also uses OARS skills, which include:
- Open questions that draw out and explore the person’s experiences, perspectives, and ideas. Motivational interviewing questions guide the client to reflect on how change may be meaningful or possible. These questions are usually open-ended (elicit-provide-elicit) to help the person explore what they already know, then seek permission to offer what the practitioner knows, and then explore the person’s response.
- Affirmation of strengths, efforts, and past successes helps to build the person’s hope and confidence in their ability to change.
- Reflections are based on careful listening and trying to understand what the person is saying through repetition, rephrasing, or offering a deeper guess about what the person is trying to communicate. This is how our therapists express empathy and make the individual feel understood and heard.
- Summarizing ensures shared understanding and reinforces key points made by the client.
- Attending to the language of change identifies what is being said against change (sustain talk) and in favor of change (change talk) and encourages a movement away from sustain talk toward change talk when appropriate.
- Exchange of information understands that both the client and therapist have expertise. Sharing information is considered a two-way street, and a therapist needs to be responsive to what the client is saying.
Additional motivational therapy elements to keep in mind include:
- Directiveness of the counselor, allowing them to help the patient and move forward from ambivalence.
- A quiet but involved tone helps effectively elicit information from the patient.
- Direct persuasion is avoided.
- A motivation to change is elicited organically rather than forcefully imposed.
- The relationship between the therapist and patient resembles a partnership rather than just a directorial one.
- It is up to the patient to resolve their ambivalence, not the counselor.
Through these foundations, we have seen patients accomplish incredible things.
The Benefits of Motivational Interviewing
Motivational interviewing focuses on developing and implementing real solutions for a wide array of problems. It is especially effective in addressing substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. Through this method, patients feel a greater sense of responsibility and accountability for their lives, giving them the strength to make positive changes.
The motivational interviewing technique is a method of communication rather than an intervention. It may be used alone or in combination with other addiction or mental health treatment approaches. There are several motivational interviewing benefits, including:
- MI helps clients take responsibility for themselves and their actions
- MI encourages clients to envision a future free of addiction or mental illness
- MI prepares clients to become more receptive to addiction or mental illness treatment
- MI builds the client’s self-confidence and trust in their ability to change
Finding Mental Health Rehab Near Me
Many therapists use motivational interviewing techniques to help break down more overwhelming tasks into manageable steps. For example, getting sober can seem like an insurmountable feat. However, with the help of MI, and other therapeutic methods, patients can break down the smaller steps of the task to reach their goals.
Our residential mental health facilities help people from all walks of life overcome mental illness, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders. Motivational interviewing is just one of the numerous evidence-based therapy programs used at our facilities.