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The Motivational Interview




In a ‘motivational interview’, the focus is on encouraging a person to make a personal decision to change behavior – and then to remain committed to that change. Motivational interviewing was originally developed in 1983 to assist people to change their behavior with regard to alcohol abuse. However, the technique can also be of assistance in many other situations in which people wish to change their personal behavior, but are uncertain about doing so – including excessive gambling, dietary habits and so on. The emphasis is thus on change – and motivating people to
do so. For example, a person who has a problem with obesity
might be unsure of whether to commence a diet that has been recommended. Even if the person knows that continued overeating would be harmful to health, he or she might have a feeling of being ‘trapped’ and unable to escape. Many people with difficulties such as this are uncertain about changing a pattern of behavior. Such uncertainty is known as ‘ambivalence’. Motivational interviewing tries to overcome such ambivalence through a non-challenging and person-centered style of counselling that enhances a person’s motivation to change behavior. In a motivational interview, the focus is on encouraging a person to make a personal decision to change their behavior. The focal point of this chapter concerns motivational interviewing and its ability to prompt a person to change behavior and move beyond ambivalence.


Contents include

  • motivation
  • ambivalence
  • the change process
  • techniques for motivational interviewing
  • strategies for motivational interviewing.
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Author / Editor Biographies

RN. MN and Cert IV (Workplace Assessment and Training).
Hugh is a nurse consultant and educator with a master of nursing qualification, majoring in community health. He has extensive hospital and community-based experience as a mental health clinician where his clients included those affected by various forms of dementia. Hugh is well known as an informed and engaging teacher and his topics include psycho-geriatric aspects of care. Also, he is the author of the publication Counselling and Interviewing for Carers: A Basic Guide.

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