Alcohol Counselling Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing is a style of patient-centred counselling developed to facilitate change in various health-related behaviours and is a technique used in treating alcohol addiction. 

The core principle of the approach is a negotiation rather than conflict. Motivational interviewing was conceived when Bill Miller, a psychologist from the USA, sat with colleagues from Norway and described what sort of therapeutic approach worked for people with alcohol problems. The process of discovery may have been like the technique itself: a gradual process of listening, reflecting to check to understand, and clarification. Once the form was crystallised, it was subjected to a detailed academic analysis. Motivational interviewing is a directive, patient-centred counselling style that aims to help patients explore and resolve their ambivalence about behaviour change. It combines elements of style (warmth and empathy) with technique (e.g. focused reflective listening and the development of discrepancy).

A core tenet of the technique is that the patient’s motivation to change is enhanced if there is a gentle process of negotiation in which the patient, not the practitioner, articulates the benefits and costs involved. A strong principle of this approach is that conflict is unhelpful and that a collaborative relationship between therapist and patient, in which they tackle the problem together, is essential.

The four central principles of motivational interviewing

  1. Express empathy by using reflective listening to convey an understanding of the patient’s point of view and underlying drives.
  2. Develop the discrepancy between the patient’s most deeply held values and their current behaviour (i.e. tease out ways in which current unhealthy behaviours conflict with the wish to ‘be good’ – or to be viewed to be good).
  3. Sidestep resistances by responding with empathy and understanding rather than confrontation.
  4. Support self-efficacies by building the patient’s confidence that change is possible.

<- Back to Alcohol Counselling – An Introduction


To find an alcohol counsellor in your area, please contact us. We have therapists all over the UK that can help you overcome alcohol problems. Just call us on 02072052845 in total confidence, and we can put you in touch with one of our certified, trained counsellors.


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