How Can Motivational Interviewing (MI) Help My Recovery?

How Can Motivational Interviewing (MI) Help My Recovery?

Experiencing ambivalence throughout recovery is normal. However, when these feelings are left unaddressed, they can hinder your ability to establish and maintain lasting sobriety. Fortunately, many treatment centers offer a variety of treatment approaches, such as motivational interviewing (MI).

MI helps resolve ambivalence and encourages a flexible mindset needed to establish lasting change. If you are struggling with the commitment to making positive change happen in your life, consider utilizing MI as a part of your treatment and recovery plan. 

The Value of Individualized Treatment Throughout Recovery

Recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) and other mental health disorders can be a challenging feat. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to treatment and recovery. 

When finding the right program for you, it is essential to understand that the most effective treatment programs will utilize individualized treatment. Individualized treatment will be tailored to your unique needs and recovery goals. Similarly, these programs will meet you exactly where you are in your healing journey rather than forcing change. 

The decision to commit to sobriety often turns individuals away from seeking and receiving treatment. Still, it is important to understand that treatment will not force your sobriety; it will help you better understand the connections between your past trauma and current thought, emotion, and behavioral patterns. 

Committing to lifelong sobriety is a decision that often takes time. With the help of treatment approaches like MI, you can feel empowered in making that commitment over time as you learn more about the obstacles that are standing in the way of your sobriety. 

What Is Motivational Interviewing (MI)?

In a publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the following is said about MI:

Motivational interviewing (MI) is an effective, evidence-based technique for helping clients resolve ambivalence about behaviors that prevent change. The core goals of MI are to express empathy and elicit clients’ reasons for and commitment to changing substance use and other unhealthy behaviors.

MI is a client-centered, goal-directed treatment approach intended to raise a client’s awareness about how their current behaviors contradict their values and goals. Whereas other therapeutic approaches can surface conflict between a client and therapist or a client within themselves, MI favors negotiation. 

The use of collaborative conversation has been repeatedly shown to strengthen clients’ motivation for lasting behavioral change. In a review and meta-analysis of MI by the British Journal of General Practice, nearly 80% of the reviewed studies showed that MI outperformed traditional advice in helping clients change their behavior. 

The Four Principles of MI

While every treatment center may utilize a different number of guiding principles, there are four main principles of MI. These principles are valued conversational strategies that help clients resolve conflict that lies within themselves.

#1. Express Empathy (Reflective Listening)

Developing a collaborative relationship between a client and a therapist, known as a therapeutic alliance, is instrumental in the effectiveness of MI. Both parties must be willing to utilize reflective listening and empathy expression during sessions. 

#2. Develop Discrepancy

When fostering a strong therapeutic alliance, the therapist’s values and beliefs must be separated from the client’s behaviors. Conversations do not express approval or disapproval. Rather, conversations will be intended to help the client understand how their behaviors are not aligning with their long-term values and goals. 

#3. Roll With Resistance

Rolling with resistance requires a therapist to “comfort the afflicted” rather than evoke resistance. The therapist will reframe the client’s thoughts and emotions without pressuring them to change or worry about being judged. 

Overcoming resistance can create barriers. Because of this, this principle emphasizes the importance of learning to adapt to resistance and ambivalence. MI believes that clients need to feel in control of their own decisions but can still be empowered to make necessary changes happen in their life.

#4. Support Self-Efficacy (Eliciting Change Talk)

The last principle focuses on eliciting change talk. While a therapist is present to guide thought and emotional processing, a client must commit to their own behavior change. When a client believes that they have the power to change, they are more likely to commit to it.

According to the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity: 

“A core principle of MI is that individuals are more likely to accept and act upon opinions that they voice themselves. The more a person argues for a position, the greater his or her commitment to it often becomes. Therefore, clients are encouraged to express their own reasons and plans for change (or lack thereof).”

Every person can come to terms with their own willingness to change. The main motivator lies in support and empowerment. MI offers just that. 

Utilizing MI Throughout Recovery

It is important to understand that MI is most effective when used to empower you to make necessary changes in your life. If you are already committed to behavior change, MI may not be as beneficial for you. It can be challenging to grasp your personal motivation to change, especially when working to recover from SUD and other mental health disorders. MI can help you explore these discrepancies and help you reach the next step of healing in your recovery journey. 

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a client-centered treatment approach that is guided by four principles: expressing empathy, developing discrepancy, rolling with resistance, and supporting self-efficacy. 12 South Recovery understands how challenging it can be to make a lifelong commitment to change. This is why we utilize principles of MI throughout our treatment programs. We believe in meeting you exactly where you are in your recovery journey. Our client-centered philosophy and use of individualized treatment create an invaluable atmosphere where you can feel empowered to establish sobriety. From our partial hospitalization (PHP) to intensive outpatient (IOP) and general outpatient programs (OP), you will feel supported by our facility throughout any stage of treatment. Call us to learn more at 866-839-6876.

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