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Motivational Interviewing

Choosing the most suitable treatment method is vital if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction. Different alcohol rehab centres employ different models of treatment, and finding out about each is the only way to make an informed decision. Motivational interviewing was developed by Stephen Rollnick and Bill Miller in the 1980s, and the key principles were laid down in 1991. This method is collaborative in approach, rather than confrontational or authoritative.

The basic principle of motivational interviewing is that ambivalence is the major barrier to change. For example, a smoker might want to stop smoking for the health benefits, but be concerned that he or she will put on weight as a result. This creates an ambivalence, whereby neither course of action has clear advantages over the other, and the person will consequently not desire change. The aim of motivational interviewing is to explore these areas of ambivalence, and hopefully come to resolve them.

Motivational interviewing is separated from many other methodologies because it doesn’t actively encourage, force or suggest change as a solution. A cornerstone of the theory is that for somebody to make a change, they have to genuinely want to change and not be coerced into it. Rollnick and Miller assert that other theories create the resistance or denial in their clients by forcing the idea of change onto somebody who doesn’t want to. They don’t claim that these measures are entirely ineffective, just that change from within the client is better than change forced onto them.

Instead of persuading or coercing the client, motivational interviewers become a collaborator in an effort to explore the areas of ambivalence. The client talks through their feelings towards the substance in question, why they continue to take it and what prevents them from getting clean. There are no right or wrong answers; the interviewer just has to determine the client’s motivations. A alcohol addict will be allowed to discuss the positives and negatives of their use openly, and will be encouraged to express themselves. If there is an ambivalent attitude, the interviewer “guides” them towards their own solution, as opposed to pushing them to accept the interviewer’s solution. The process isn’t as fast as forcing change onto somebody who may not be ready for it, but it is arguably more effective.

The aims of motivational interviewing can be understood through the general collaborative spirit rather than a precise set of rules. Whilst the interviewer will obviously hope that an addict will change, there isn’t a specific drive for him or her to do so. This leads to personable, quiet and positive sessions, rather than ones with high tensions and forceful breaking down of denial. You or your loved one has chosen to take alcohols. Motivational interviewing respects that freedom, but still shines the spotlight on questionable actions by focusing on resolving any ambivalence.

If the person decides to stop taking alcohols, then motivational interviewing can shift in focus. The interviewer can suggest alternative behavioural coping mechanisms, and help with any difficulties which may arise. The underlying assumption of this form of alcohol rehab, however, is that little extra help will be required after the individual has truly decided to change. Interviewers develop empathy for their clients quickly, and will still usually be happy to offer additional help if it is needed.

Motivational interviewing can be both a technique used in alcohol rehab and a way to convince others to check into a facility. We provide free advice on the various alcohol rehab facilities available, and have a thorough knowledge of the methodologies employed by each. We can explain the different treatments and help you come to the right decision. If you would like more information on motivational interviewing or other counselling styles, we will be happy to help. Get in touch with us and see what we can offer you!


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