Motivational interviewing with underage college drinkers: a preliminary look at the role of empathy and alliance

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2007;33(5):737-46. doi: 10.1080/00952990701522690.


This study evaluated the impact of a motivational interview (MI) on alcohol use in underage college drinkers, and examined the specific role of empathy and alliance in MI. Fifty-five underage heavy drinkers were randomized to a one-session MI or no-treatment control. Empathy and alliance were evaluated through the MITI, participant, and therapist ratings. At two-month follow-up, multivariate tests reveal no significant interaction effects. Means comparisons indicated that both groups showed reductions in alcohol-related problems, however, only the MI sample evidenced significant reductions in binge drinking. In addition, despite the reductions of both groups, effect sizes indicated that the MI group outperformed the control in terms of binge-drinking and alcohol-related problems. Contrary to predictions, empathy and alliance showed no relationships with outcomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological / methods*
  • Legislation, Drug* / standards
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Psychotherapeutic Processes*
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / methods*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Universities