Motivational Interviewing is a therapeutic technique for helping people make changes in their lives. In particular, it has been applied effectively to the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.
The spirit of Safe Haven's Motivational Interviewing is based on three key concepts. They are: collaboration between the therapist and the addict, drawing out the individual's ideas and fostering autonomy of the person with the addiction. Contralily, these may seem and appear to be opposite of traditional cognitive therapies.
Collaboration is the partnership that is formed between the therapist and the person with the addiction. Furthermore, this partnership is based on the point of view and experiences of the person with the addiction. It contrasts with some other approaches to addictions treatment, which are based on the therapist confronting the addict. Collaboration has the effect of building rapport with the addict, and allows the person to develop trust towards the therapist.
This does not mean that the therapist automatically agrees with the client. In other words, they have found mutual respect to each other. Although the person with the addiction and their therapist may see things differently, the therapeutic process is focused on mutual understanding.
The approach of the therapist drawing out the client's own ideas, is based on the belief that the motivation to change comes from the client themselves. In spite of the fact that the therapist might want the person to change their behavior, it will only happen when they are ready. So, it is the therapist's job to "draw out" the person's true motivations and skills for change.
Unlike some other addiction therapies that emphasize the therapist as an authority figure, motivational interviewing recognizes that the true power for making changes rests with the client. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to follow through with making changes happen. Additionally, this proves to be empowering for the individual. It also gives them responsibility for their actions.
Four guiding principles form the basis of the Motivational Interviewing approach. Although each person's process of overcoming an addiction will be different, the therapist will hold true to these principles throughout each individual's process. These four principles are vital to establishing trust within the therapeutic relationship.
People with addictions are often reluctant to go into treatment because they don't believe that the therapist will understand what they are going through. Many, especially those who have endured criticisms from others, believe they will be judged. Some, even feeling guilty about their behavior and feeling judgment would be valid. But judgment simply is not what motivational interviewing is about.
Instead of judging the person with the addiction, the therapist focuses on understanding the situation from the addicted person's point of view. This is simple empathy. Empathy does not mean that the therapist agrees with the person, but that they understand and that the individual's behavior makes sense to them. Thus, it creates an atmosphere of acceptance.
Motivational interviewing helps people make up their minds about how to move forward through the stages of change. This is done by helping the individual look at the pros and cons of different choices. So, without pressuring the person, goals and actions can be developed in this trusting, collaborative atmosphere. Moreover, they are based on the individual's own needs, goals, values, and strengths.
Motivational interviewing as an approach recognizes that change does not always happen easily or just because the individual wants it. Therefore, it is natural for the person to change their mind many times about whether they want to give up their addiction.
Rather than challenging or criticizing the client, the therapist will aid the individual to reach a new understanding of themselves and what their addiction means to them. In other words, they re-frame and offer different interpretations of situations that come up in the change process. Typically, these increase the person's motivation to change. All of this is based on the individual's own goals and values, which have already been explored.
The Florida addiction therapist will always support the person's belief in their own power to make the changes they want. In the beginning, the therapist may have more confidence in the individual than they have themselves, but this changes with ongoing support.