What is Motivational Interviewing (MI)?

MI Motivational interviewing, first described by William Miller (1983) and later defined and elaborated in the book Motivational Interviewing: Preparing people for change (1991, 2002, 2013) is defined as a guiding form of communication for change. Motivational interviewing provides framework and approach for supporting people considering change in their lives. While MI was originally developed in the drug and alcohol field it is now used and tested in a wide range of professional venues, for countless target behaviors all around the world. As of the end of 2018, there are over 1,000 randomized controlled trials using MI.

A basic assumptions grounding MI is that individuals have within themselves the seeds for change. Because it is natural to resist change when it is imposed on us, MI practice focuses on partnering with individuals so that they may recognize for themselves why and how they would make a change, should they choose to do so. MI skills and techniques are informed by the MI spirit rooted in partnership, evocation, acceptance and compassion.

Why use Motivational Interviewing?

Because people have internal wells filled with ideas, resources, strengths, desires, and needs to make change happen, sometimes we benefit from some gentle guiding to tap into those wells.

When can it be used?

MI was created by Dr. Bill Miller and Dr. Steve Rollnick and was first applied in the context of addictions. Today, MI is used in a number of settings including but not limited to health care, diet and exercise, mental health, corrections, domestic violence, prevention and health promotion. The research base for evaluation of MI in these areas continues to grow and is significant (go to motivationalinterviewing.org for a comprehensive bibliography of MI related research and literature).


There are many wonderful MI resources that you can turn to for additional information and support. For all things MI, go to motivationalinterviewing.org, the official website for the MI network of trainers known as MINT (Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers). The website contains an extensive and searchable MI bibliography, a listing of MI trainers, and MI training events.