There's nothing more practical than a good theory: integrating motivational interviewing and self-determination theory

Br J Clin Psychol. 2006 Mar;45(Pt 1):63-82. doi: 10.1348/014466505X34192.


In this article we compare and integrate two well-established approaches to motivating therapeutic change, namely self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985, ) and motivational interviewing (MI; Miller & Rollnick, 1991, ). We show that SDT's theoretical focus on the internalization of therapeutic change and on the issue of need-satisfaction is fully compatible with key principles and clinical strategies within MI. We further suggest that basic need-satisfaction might be an important mechanism accounting for the positive effects of MI. Conversely, MI principles may provide SDT researchers with new insight into the application of SDT's theoretical concept of autonomy-support, and suggest new ways of testing and developing SDT. In short, the applied approach of MI and the theoretical approach of SDT might be fruitfully married, to the benefit of both.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic*
  • Motivation*
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Psychological Theory*