Ten things that motivational interviewing is not

Behav Cogn Psychother. 2009 Mar;37(2):129-40. doi: 10.1017/S1352465809005128.


Background: In the 26 years since it was first introduced in this journal, motivational interviewing (MI) has become confused with various other ideas and approaches, owing in part to its rapid international diffusion.

Methods: Based on confusions that have arisen in publications and presentations regarding MI, the authors compiled a list of 10 concepts and procedures with which MI should not be addled.

Results: This article discusses 10 things that MI is not: (1) the transtheoretical model of change; (2) a way of tricking people into doing what you want them to do; (3) a technique; (4) decisional balance; (5) assessment feedback; (6) cognitive-behavior therapy; (7) client-centered therapy; (8) easy to learn; (9) practice as usual; and (10) a panacea.

Conclusion: Clarity about what does (and does not) constitute MI promotes quality assurance in scientific research, clinical practice, and training.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Motivation*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Psychological Theory