Motivational interviewing (MI) combines supportive and directive interventions to increase the motivation to change behavior. It was initially developed as a short (1 – 3 sessions) intervention to treat problematic drinking and has been adapted to longer formats. Despite the popularity and widespread use of MI interventions, there has been virtually no research focusing on understanding the experience of the clients who have undergone MI or of professionals who practice MI. Understanding these perspectives can lead to the refinement of motivational interviewing and improved patient outcomes. Polcin and colleagues (2014) interviewed approximately 180 patients who received either 1-session motivational interviewing (MI-1) or a 9-session MI intervention (MI-9) to explore what aspects of treatments for methamphetamine dependence they found most useful. Interestingly, most patients, even if they received the longer version of MI, reported that they would have wanted more therapy sessions. Patients who received MI-9 also reported their therapists as being more supportive, better listeners, and more caring. The largest difference between patients who received MI-9 and those who received MI-1 was that the MI-9 patients were much more likely to report that the feedback and advice of the therapist was a useful part of treatment. Additionally, those receiving MI9 were also more likely to report that they learned skills and tools that could aid their recovery. Therapists also reported advantages of MI-9 over MI-1, particularly in helping patients with more concrete change strategies. Although motivational interviewing was designed as a brief intervention and has shown efficacy as such, the current findings highlight that patients and therapists see a potential role for MI as a longer-term intervention.
Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR)
Marna S. Barrett, Ph.D.
Mood & Anxiety Disorders Treatment Research Unit
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
3535 Market St., Suite 670
Philadelphia, PA 19104