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Motivational Interviewing and Addiction: The Impact of Being Heard

Change is hard. Think about the last time you tried to lose weight or quit smoking. Consider those yearly resolutions and how quickly they fall by the wayside, victims of procrastination. Things that we do by habit, even simple tasks such as reading in bed or drinking coffee in the morning, happen from years of practice. For this reason, it’s difficult to wake up one day and simply not do them anymore. Motivational interviewing (MI) is a technique that’s beneficial to clients attempting change. Accordingly, motivational interviewing and addiction are a helpful combination.

What Is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational interviewing is a therapeutic technique that helps clients make difficult changes in their lives. For instance, someone may want to change unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as misusing prescription medication, but they lack the determination to do so. Using motivational interviewing, clients speak their goals out loud to a trained therapist who’s empathetic and encouraging. Through conversation, clients express their feelings about the designated change, and therapists help them see the transition in a positive light. Motivational interviewing and addiction pair well together, because talking about where a client is today and helping them to envision where they could be tomorrow is inspiring. Consequently, when used in conjunction with behavioral counseling, MI is often very effective.

How Long Does the Process Take?

Unlike other forms of psychotherapy or talk therapy, MI often happens in only one or two sessions. It’s a quick process that helps clients focus on one important goal. Initially, MI helps increase the motivation of the client to change. Then, it asks them to commit to the action. This combination of commitment and accountability is often a great incentive for following through. It’s one of the major benefits of motivational interviewing and addiction.

The Relationship Between Motivational Interviewing and Addiction

In a therapeutic setting, MI builds trust and rapport between client and therapist. Consequently, this is helpful in several ways, including:

  • Offering encouragement to the person being interviewed
  • Helping to increase the client’s motivation
  • Making the client feel safe and secure enough to share their feelings
  • Helping the client hear their own thoughts reflected back to them by the interviewer
  • Encouraging accountability in the client

The person who performs MI must fully understand the therapeutic nature of the interview. His or her job is to listen, rather than to react. While the interviewer may encourage the client to picture change, they must know when to back away and allow the client to move along at his own pace. If done correctly, motivational interviewing and addiction are powerful solutions.

Principles of Motivational Interviewing

Therapists who use MI adhere to five basic principles. These include:

  • Expressing empathy — the therapist hears the client’s input without judgment and reflects their words back to them. As a result, the client feels valued
  • Developing discrepancy — the therapist helps the client see where they are today and envision where they could be tomorrow
  • Avoiding argument — the therapist leads but never argues with the client
  • Adjusting to resistance — the therapist listens for indicators of resistance and uses them to redirect
  • Support self-efficacy — the therapist helps the client rebuild self-esteem and confidence in his own abilities

Once these principles are mastered between client and therapist, change is more likely to happen.

When You’re Ready to Affect Change in Your Life

If you’re struggling with addiction in your life, MI may help you find the impetus to change. At Recovery Ranch in Tennessee, we offer motivational interviewing as a regular component of our treatment plans for substance use disorder. Through the basic exchange of ideas and solutions between our compassionate therapists and you, change can happen — even major change such as achieving recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. When you’re ready to reach out for a helping hand, we’re ready to pull you in. Give us a call today at 1.844.876.7680 to begin your path to a brighter future and a better life.

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