Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an individual therapy technique that is useful for complementing a drug addiction recovery program for higher chances of success. It’s helpful for sparking and nurturing a patient’s desire for positive change. Whether the client entered treatment willingly or unwillingly, MI can be effective.

How Motivational Interviewing Can Help

Motivational interviewing was a good choice for this smiling man in groupMI is a powerful counseling technique for helping patients overcome ambivalence. Even patients who willingly seek outpatient treatment programs often experience some level of ambivalence. They want to heal, be a good parent, get good grades, perform well in their career, and otherwise live a happy life.

Yet, the hold addiction has on a person is strong. That part of them doesn’t want to lose the feeling the drug gives them. When you have an understanding of brain chemistry, then this makes sense. Drugs cause a release of dopamine in the brain. In simple terms, dopamine enhances pleasure, whether it’s from eating chocolate, playing a fun video game, or watching a favorite TV show.

Ambivalence is conflicting feelings that often get in the way of achieving personal goals. Motivational Interviewing helps patients resolve this natural ambivalence in order to increase their motivation for accomplishing their goals. If you or a loved one is seeking help, you can find a great treatment program that utilizes MI at Gateway Foundation Chicago River North Outpatient. Some of the other available services at our treatment center include:

What Are the Principles of Motivational Interviewing?

MI centers around five major principles:

  • Showing empathy to the patient
  • Avoiding arguments
  • Adjusting to patient resistance
  • Supporting optimism
  • Developing discrepancies between goals and current behavior

It’s a gentle, caring approach to helping your loved one recognize their values and goals and how the addiction isn’t supportive of living the life they want. During Motivational Interviewing, counselors show empathy for their patients through reflective listening. They express respect for the client’s feelings and encourage collaboration.

Counselors are careful to avoid arguments and direct confrontation because they hinder a patient’s progress in overcoming ambivalence. If the patient doesn’t view themselves as addicted or as an alcoholic, our counselors accept that and don’t try to force the label. Rather than push against a patient’s resistance, the counselor chooses phrases carefully to flow with it and encourage the spark of change without seeming confrontational. There are many tactics for adjusting to resistance in a way that gently guides someone to the desire for positive change, such as simple reflection, reframing, double-sided reflection, amplified reflection, and shifting focus.

Who Can Benefit From Motivational Interviewing?

Anyone who is going through outpatient substance abuse treatment can benefit from MI, primarily when it’s used during the beginning of treatment and in combination with other methods. Even those who are hostile and resistant to rehab can benefit from Motivational Interviewing. Although the technique may not cause the person to change immediately, it can plant the seeds for potential change. They may have at least an inkling that recovery is possible and would be a good thing thanks to MI. This counseling technique offers new ways of thinking for the individual without judging or forcing them.

Motivational Interviewing is effective for individuals who are further along in the recovery process, too, so don’t cross it off your list if you have already been through a drug addiction treatment program before. Don’t let the term “goals” discourage you, either. Your counselor can help you discover what you value and what your goals are if you feel like you don’t have any right now. Goals can be as simple as being a good parent or graduating college.

Everyone has something that’s important to them, whether they are consciously aware or not. MI is a great way to discover this about yourself and take charge of your recovery in a collaborative relationship. You don’t need to worry about someone judging you or pressuring you into Motivational Interviewing.

Contact us at Gateway Foundation Chicago River North Outpatient at 312.464.9451 to enroll in Motivational Interviewing at our outpatient-only location.