Learning MI

See below for information about learning MI and what to expect from different MI training formats, which has been copied from the MINT website.

What might you expect out of different lengths and types of training?

The Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) is an international organization of trainers sharing an interest in improving the quality and effectiveness of counseling and consultations given to clients about behavior change. Members are enrolled in MINT after a formal training of trainers program and continue to improve the quality of their workshops and consultations through a variety of professional development opportunities within the organization. There are many ways to develop skillful MI practice abilities.

On-site MI Training with Ongoing Consultation

Most MINT trainers share in the belief that ongoing on-site consultation is the best method to facilitate improvement in the practice of motivational interviewing and brief behavior consultations. The majority of MINT training is provided through private contracts of this nature.

diverse group for motivational interviewing

Off Site/Workshop Training

Off-site introductory and advanced workshops and coursework provide another useful forum for improving practice. For many individuals this option represents an important source of learning.

A Brief Introduction to MI: Training Options

Individual Study and Self-Training

Perhaps the most common method by which people explore MI is to study print materials and view training videotapes. Although this can provide some understanding of the basic approach, research by Miller and colleagues found that assigned self-training was not effective in improving clinical skillfulness in MI.

Introduction to Motivational Interviewing (1 hour to 1 day)

Training of up to one day can acquaint the audience with basic concepts and methods of MI, but is unlikely to increase the clinical skillfulness of participants in the practice of MI. The purpose of this type of workshop is to help participants determine how interested they are in learning more about MI.

  • A trainer may provide some simple exercises that a practitioner can try with patients to get a “taste” of an MI style.
  • The format may be primarily didactic, and may include live or videotaped demonstrations of MI.

Introduction to MI –Training Option (Introductory Workshop of 2-3 days)

With 16-24 hours of training contact time, it is possible to provide participants with an understanding of the spirit and method of MI, and to offer some practical experience in trying out this approach. A reasonable goal for this level of training is not MI proficiency, but rather to “learn how to learn” MI from ongoing practice.

  • Expect a mix of didactic presentation, demonstration, and practice exercises.
  • A limited number of participants per trainer allows some opportunity for observation and feedback. Limitations will vary depending on the precise goals and nature of the training, but we recommend no more than 40 participants per trainer.
  • Research and experience caution that attendees may leave a one-time introductory workshop overconfident in their mastery of MI.
  • Optimally, this length of training should be provided in blocks of 4 hours or so, with opportunity in between for participants to practice MI and come back with experience and problems (for example, 4/4/4: 4 sessions of 4 hours each spread over 4 months).
  • Many organizations choose to contract for full day concurrent workshops. While practical for attendees, this learning option reduces the applicability and retention of MI practice compared to dividing sessions with personal practice in between. Research indicates a reduction in MI skill level within 4 months (Miller & Mount, 2001).
  • Adding opportunities for personal performance feedback (e.g., from practice audiotapes) and/or individual coaching can significantly increase the effectiveness of training in helping participants to improve their clinical proficiency.

Intermediate and Advanced Training

Intermediate/Advanced Clinical Training (2-3 days). For those who have learned the fundamentals of MI and practiced it over time and now seek more advanced training in MI.

  • Training should include analysis of practice audio or videotapes.
  • Expect more demonstration and practice exercises, and less didactic material.
  • Focus in advanced training is on differentiating change talk from commitment language, and learning how to elicit and shape the two.
  • Prior proficiency and experience in the practice of MI are assumed. Ongoing consultation and supervision (open-ended). Research indicates feedback and individualized training are most effective for gaining MI skills.
  • This type of consultation can happen individually, within an organization, or contracted in addition to any workshop.
  • Many MINT trainers offer individual consultation in person, telephonically, or through computer mediated communication such as video calls, digital audio or video recordings, and online classes. This allows for the most thorough adaptation of MI methods to specifics of the individual situation.

Information about Training in Motivational Interviewing

The Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT Incorporated) was organized to promote quality in the practice and training of motivational interviewing (MI). Membership in MINT is obtained by completing a Training of New Trainers (TNT) sponsored or endorsed by MINT. Admission to a TNT requires submission of an application that documents the applicant’s achievement of proficiency in the practice of MI as well as prior experience as a trainer or supervisor. MINT members are eligible to attend the organization’s annual international meeting and to participate in an active listserve dedicated to sharing knowledge and experience related to MI training, practice, and research. MINT does not currently certify trainers, and MINT trainers may not legitimately represent themselves as certified, registered, or licensed by MINT.

MINT Incorporated does not restrict or prescribe the form, length, or content of training offered by its members. However, based upon published research on training in MI, as well as extensive experience in providing such training, MINT does provide the following consensus guidelines regarding best training practices:

  • Workshop training can introduce participants to the spirit, concepts, and methods of MI, but should not be expected to provide competence in the practice of MI.
  • Proficiency in MI is typically gained over time through feedback, coaching, or supervision based on observed practice.
  • Any judgment or certification of proficiency should be based on direct observation using a recognized metric.
  • Prior to training others in MI, trainers should have themselves demonstrated proficiency in the practice of MI.

MINT trainers cannot confer MINT-certified status on participants in their training, nor can they admit trainees to MINT. MINT trainers may provide participants with certificates of completion of a workshop or other training experience. They may also choose to offer their personal certification of trainees’ achievement of competence in MI practice based upon trainees having met proficiency standards, as measured by available recognized metrics. Certification of proficiency is to be based on meeting practice competence criteria, and should not be given based merely upon completion of a particular amount of training, although a sequence of structured training experiences may contribute to trainees’ achievement of proficiency.

From the Board of Directors, MINT Incorporated
August, 2009