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How Motivational Interviewing Can Enhance Mental Wellness

Motivational Interviewing (MI) has become an increasingly popular style of mental health treatment. Motivational Interviewing is a counseling style that was initially used to treat addiction, although its use has widened to include improving social and interpersonal skills for a range of mental health conditions. MI developed as a response to the understanding of how difficult it is to change conditioned and habitual behaviors. 

What Is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational Interviewing has been defined as a person-centered treatment method of guiding an individual to strengthen their personal motivation for change. This kind of treatment encourages an individual to work through their unhealthy behaviors by highlighting the contrast between their goals or values and their current habits. The main goal of motivational interviewing is to help a client resolve their hesitation or unwillingness to change as well as encourage the client to believe that their desired change is achievable. During sessions, a counselor or therapist will have conversations with the client about their behavior. It is the role of a therapist to direct the conversation so that the client feels empowered and motivated to change, as well as giving the client the confidence to do so. For most healthcare professionals, motivational interviewing is goal-centered and patient-directed. 

A Collaborative Process

For success with motivational interviewing sessions, there must be a collaborative and friendly relationship between the healthcare professional and the client. This requires the counselor or therapist to show a great amount of compassion and empathy for their client, realizing that any struggle that their client may have with activating change is their responsibility. These sessions are more likely to promote positivity and change when a counselor or therapist does not cling to a desired outcome but instead encourages the client to identify and work towards their own goals and values. 

Some important principles that are focused on during motivational interviewing include: 

  • The expression of empathy through reflective listening
  • Identifying discrepancies between behaviors and life values and goals
  • Direct confrontation avoidance from the healthcare professional
  • Supporting a positive and encouraging environment
  • The use of affirmation statements such as “I appreciate you meeting with me today” in order to build confidence in the client’s ability to change
  • Mindfulness techniques such as acceptance
  • Using a person-centered focus on the client’s personal situation

Why Do People Struggle With Motivation?

Motivation, in this sense, is how likely or encouraged a person is to change their unhealthy behaviors into more productive and beneficial behaviors. When motivational interviewing was developed, it was created because individuals that struggle with addiction or substance use had found a temporary outlet with their substance of choice. Individuals who struggle with substance use and addiction have to evaluate their willingness to change, as many get comfortable with their substance use as a coping skill. No matter the substance, constant use of a drug of choice has significant effects on the reward center in the brain, which affects one’s motivation to change. When it comes to any mental health condition, an individual must first be confident in their ability to change and encouraged to do so, so that they are better able to devote time and energy to be a better version of themself. 

Motivational Interviewing also provides a framework for interacting with individuals who may be homeless or struggling with trauma. Many of these individuals have experienced so much adversity and struggle in their lives that they have lost the motivation or willingness to change. Motivational interviewing encourages a brighter and better future for these people by affirming that they are worthy and deserving individuals that are able to experience a brighter future once they believe it for themselves. 

Motivational Interviewing Enhances Mental Wellness

Motivational Interviewing works because it allows a client to have a supportive and empowering ear to listen to their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It allows a client to experience empathy for the hardships that they have endured. For some clients, this may be the first time they feel enabled to change or deserve a life beyond their unhealthy behaviors. 

This kind of treatment enhances mental wellness because it encourages change and addresses the resistance to change that many individuals experience through their personal limits of problem-solving. Mental wellness is also achieved through MI because it holds an individual accountable and responsible for finding solutions to their problems in a supportive and authentic environment. Meanwhile, confidence is enhanced. Through the entire process of motivational interviewing, a client receives valuable and empathetic feedback of their thoughts, feelings, and other emotions. The feedback that an individual receives through these sessions helps them to feel appreciated, heard, willing to grow, and comfortable in exploring new ideas for change in the future. 

Motivational Interviewing is a person-centered counseling method that enables a client to feel valued and motivated to change unwanted or unhealthy behaviors. Motivational interviewing is a useful treatment therapy for a range of mental health conditions because it promotes confidence and empathy, which allows an individual to come to terms with change in their own personal way. A counselor or therapist will use reflective listening and affirmations during sessions and identify discrepancies between a client’s unhealthy behavior along with their life goals and values. Motivational interviewing encourages change and enhances overall mental wellness by addressing individual resistance to change, increasing confidence, and providing a safe and supportive environment to work through adversity. SoCal Mental Health prioritizes the use of motivational interviewing to foster confidence in you to change unhealthy behaviors. We want you to experience long-term self-confidence and the motivation to be your best self. Call us for more information at (714) 328-4760.