Get Help Now: (888) 989-9690
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Using Motivational Interviewing for Healing

It’s easy to think of addiction treatment as simply detoxification and withdrawal management—and those components are absolutely essential for your initial transition into sobriety. But to ensure long-term recovery, you need to develop reliable wellness techniques. Some people find success using motivational interviewing for healing. If you haven’t heard of this approach, here’s how it might work for you. 

Understanding Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a multifaceted, evidence-based practice used to encourage behavioral modifications. It’s particularly effective in areas where there’s resistance or uncertainty about making changes, such as overcoming addiction, adopting healthier habits, or managing chronic conditions. 

William R. Miller—a psychology and psychiatry professor now retired from the University of New Mexico—first developed this technique so therapists could work with individuals to strengthen their commitment and motivational skills. A key focus of the method, especially with people in recovery from alcohol use disorder (AUD) and substance use disorder (SUD), is to help them recognize that change gives them more control over their choices.   

“MI is an alternative to the usual approach of educating clients and trying to persuade them to change. Simply advising clients to change is usually ineffective and can even entrench the status quo,” Miller has said. “Even brief MI interventions have been shown to help people turn the corner on longstanding self-destructive habits.” MI has been studied in more than one thousand controlled clinical trials over 40 years. 

Using Motivational Interviewing for Healing

As a therapeutic approach, motivational interviewing isn’t a counselor telling you what to think or how to feel. Trained professionals rely heavily on client collaboration to enable individuals to explore their motivations, strengths, and goals for change. 

MI is a component of many progressive SUD and AUD treatment methods, including the Tactical Recovery program—a Veteran-Ready treatment initiative to help members of the military, law enforcement personnel, and first responders move forward from addiction, PTSD, and other issues. Here are some ways motivational interviewing helps you.

  • Reduces Resistance and Ambivalence 

By using strategies such as reflective listening, open-ended questions, and affirmations, MI practitioners create a non-confrontational and empathetic atmosphere that encourages individuals to openly express their concerns, doubts, and reasons for maintaining current behaviors. Through this process, ambivalence is acknowledged and explored in a way that promotes readiness for change.

  • Respects Autonomy 

A key principle of motivational interviewing is supporting individuals in making their own choices. MI practitioners avoid imposing their own agenda or judgments—instead, they facilitate a collaborative process where individuals feel empowered to explore their options and make informed decisions. This autonomy-supportive approach enhances feelings of control and ownership over the change process.

  • Increases Intrinsic Motivation 

Motivational interviewing helps people elicit and reinforce their individual reasons for wanting to change. Rather than imposing external pressure or advice, MI encourages you to reflect on personal values, goals, and desires, which helps develop a deeper sense of commitment and motivation to pursue behavioral changes.

  • Builds Self-Efficacy 

Once individuals recognize their own strengths, resources, and abilities to make positive changes, evolving through the recovery process is much easier. Through MI’s collaborative conversations, individuals can identify not only potential barriers to change, but also past successes and coping strategies. This approach highlights their capacity and confidence to overcome obstacles and achieve goals.

  • Facilitates Goal Setting and Action Planning 

Motivational interviewing helps individuals clarify their goals, priorities, and intentions for change. When you explore the discrepancy between current behavior and desired outcomes, you can identify specific, achievable goals that align with your values and aspirations. MI also supports the development of concrete action plans, including identifying potential obstacles, resources, and strategies for implementing change effectively.

If MI doesn’t sound like any other “therapy” you’ve tried, you’re probably right. This might make it a more viable option for your wellness success. This video demonstrates just one example of how motivational interviewing might work for you.

Find the Care You Deserve at Fair Oaks

Addiction treatment shouldn’t be one size fits all. It’s essential for you or a loved one to choose a rehabilitation facility that caters to you as an individual and partners with you to provide a continuum of care that takes into account your background, experiences, values, and beliefs.

Fair Oaks Recovery Center in Sacramento, California, is a licensed Chemical Dependency Recovery Hospital, a status granted by the California Department of Public Health to addiction rehabilitation and dual diagnosis treatment facilities that provide high-level acuity care. Our board-certified medical team designs a customized treatment approach with progressive techniques such as motivational interviewing, holistic wellness, and more. 

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