07 3216 3643

Motivational Interviewing

- MI -

What is MI?

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a client-centred, directive method for enhancing a person’s natural motivation by exploring and resolving the ambivalence that may be hindering the individual from making changes. 


This style of interacting in treatment was first used to address substance abuse. Since then, it has been used in a number of settings, including diet, exercise, and medication adherence. In addition, it has been added to psychological treatment for a range of issues occurring for individuals.

MI Fundamentals

Motivational Interviewing is based on three fundamental underlying ideas:

Collaboration: highlights the importance of the therapist and client working together on problems rather than the therapist assuming an authoritarian position.

Evocation: focuses on inspiring, drawing forth and eliciting motivation from the client’s perspectives and wishes, and assumes that persuasion is not effective.

Autonomy: refers to the therapist’s respect for, and understanding that it is the client’s decision whether and how to make a behaviour change.

Main Principles of MI

Motivational interviewing consists of four main principles, including: expressing empathy, developing discrepancy, supporting a person’s self-efficacy, and rolling with any resistance that may come up. These are the principles that guide the therapist in everything that occurs within motivational interviewing. 


1) Expressing empathy involves listening to and understanding the client’s perspective without criticising, judging or blaming; 2) Developing discrepancy is about highlighting how current behaviours threaten important personal goals or are inconsistent with personal values; 3) Supporting the client’s self-efficacy refers to helping the client feel confident in their  ability to make a behaviour change; and 4) Rolling with resistance refers to the MI principle of avoiding arguing with their clients; instead, the aim is to help the client reflect on and explore their concerns, including where resistance is coming from.