Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is an evidence-based counseling method used to help people become internally motivated to change behaviors that are keeping them from making positive life decisions. It is a practical, short-term, person-centered process in which the counselor recognizes individual strengths and brings them to the forefront whenever possible.

Source: Project E3

Goals of Motivational Interviewing Training

  • Understand the five principles of motivational interviewing
  • Recognize examples of motivational interviewing communication skills
  • Consider motivational interviewing as a support for decision-making

The Five Principles of Motivational Interviewing

Apply the five principles of motivational interviewing to support those working to resolve ambivalent feelings about changing and to spark their internal motivation to change:

  1. Express empathy through reflective listening
  2. Identify discrepancy between clients’ goals or values and their current behavior
  3. Avoid argument and direct confrontation
  4. Adjust to client resistance rather than opposing it directly
  5. Support self-efficacy and optimism

Communication Skills

Motivational interviewing requires a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication to strengthen someone’s personal motivation for change. Here are some strategies to keep in mind:

Source: Introduction to Motivational Interviewing, SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions



    Researchers recently explored how motivational interviewing can support decision-making in the vocational rehabilitation process. They provide three tips for vocational rehabilitation service providers:

    Support job-seekers to choose between options

    Keep an open mind about the rationale behind behaviors. View behavior as predictable, moldable, and situationally responsive

    Recognize a person’s values, focus on positive traits, and view options from their point of view

    Turn Knowledge into Action

    Communication and Engagement Strategies

    These suggestions are based on lessons learned by Wisconsin Work Incentive Benefit Specialists.

    Turn Knowledge into Action

    Training Tips



    Following are some tools and resources to learn even more about this topic.

    Featured Resources

    Mint - excellence in motivational interviewing

    Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers

    Resources for those seeking information on Motivational Interviewing! MINT Website


    Introduction to Motivational Interviewing

    Bill Matulich talks about the basic concepts of Motivational Interviewing (MI). Watch YouTube Video