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People come to treatment with all sorts of problems and respond to all sorts of treatment. Or not. Every approach seems to offer something, and no one approach has all of the answers.

So why did I choose to spend so much time focusing on Motivational Interviewing? Here are ten reasons why MI gently nudged its way into the foundation of my practice.

1.    I liked the values of MI

The values of respect, curiosity and faith are central to MI, rather than implied or incidental. And these were values I very much wanted to be at the core of my work. MI gave them a clear place and purpose.

2.    I liked the people who liked MI

The people who recommended MI were often people who I already respected. I became curious what MI had to offer because their other insights or advice had been valuable. MI has also led to wonderful friendships with like-minded people.

3.    MI made sense in the real world

MI normalised the challenges of ambivalence and “resistance”, and it offered practical ways to work with them. Instead of needing people to be ready for change, I could just meet people where they were and start from there.

4.    MI took the pressure off

When I started counselling, I spent a lot of energy trying to be helpful but not always feeling that I was. MI helped me to sit back, slow down and get out of the client’s way.

5.    I liked the conversation I got back

When I tried what I thought was MI, more often than not the conversation felt both easier and more productive. And looking back it didn’t even seem to need to be “good MI”. Just going in that direction helped.

6.    MI is practical

MI opened up little choices that made a big difference. It was about consistently doing small things well. And I could just try one thing, get comfortable with it, and try another when I was ready. I didn’t need to know it all at once.

7.    MI is not a treatment

MI is a ‘method of communication’, so it can comfortably be combined with other approaches and used in a range of settings and roles. As a result, MI helped me use other techniques more effectively, rather than compete with them. 

8.    MI is a path into what works

We now have decades of research into “what works in helping conversations”. MI has some very practical ways of enhancing key qualities of the helping relationship that can improve outcomes.

9.    MI is a good fit for me

MI helped me to make the most of my strengths and soften my weaknesses. The rationale made sense and the skills fit well with the way my brain works. That doesn’t mean it would be a good fit for everyone.

10.    I’m still learning

One of the things that keeps me interested in MI is that I still have room to grow and improve. MI offers a discipline rather than simply providing a set of strategies. And somehow does it in a low key, friendly way. MI keeps me curious and I really like that.