Motivational Interviewing as a Therapy in Psychology

This summary has been prepared on an APA Psychenet article entitled – “Beyond Cognition: Broadening the emotional base of motivational interviewing” (Wagner & Ingersoll, 2008, pp.191-206).

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The article examines the beneficial and positive aspects of MI (motivational interviewing) as a viable therapy for clients having low self-esteem and motivation, vacillating minds accompanied with indecisiveness and mixed feelings about whether to effect constructive and positive changes in their lives and personalities.

This article investigates MI as a technique that could harness positive self beliefs and eliminate self doubts and vacillations due to lack of self confidence, inability to make and execute decisions causing changes in the client’s outlook and behavior patterns and make clients more positively inclined towards success.

The four stages that are systematically undertaken by MI are:

  • Stage 1. Empathy: The therapists views aspects from the client’s perspective and empathizes with his problems
  • Stage 2 : Move along with the resistance offered by client : Clients needing MI therapy are initially diffident, unwilling to open out and are clearly at a loss to understand how the therapist would view the scenario, especially if the client is agitated, aggressive or shows signs of lack of concern in MI techniques.
  • Stage 3: The therapists puts the patient at ease, tries to understand the

fundamental problems, especially the thought processes and frame of mind that underlies speech, actions and hazards calculated guesses and options that could have possibly contributed to such client conduct.

At this level, the therapist, tactfully questions certain aspects of the client’s resistance to change, including factors that nourish pessimistic or negative feelings, while being circumspect not to arouse defeatist, or uncompromising attitude by the client towards the therapy program.

  • Stage 4: This is most important step. At this stage, the therapists imbues

self-confidence and self awareness in the client. He is prompted to slowly discard negative variants in his professed beliefs that are not in sync with present behavior. Positive emotions are recharged, past successes recalled and the therapist engages the client to induce himself to change for the better, including his own self image, convictions and confidence levels. However, it is necessary that the client himself feels the necessity to undergo positive behavior and personality changes and the therapist does not impose, or compel positive emotion creation and installation.

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Emotional rejuvenation forms an indispensable part of MI therapy, since thoughts, experiences and senses constrict emotional growth and it is necessary that emotions need to be suitably positively directed through the use of MI.

The nervous and agitated patient comes to meet the therapist, who ensures his physical comfort and empathizes with all that he says (Stage 1). Next, it is necessary for MI therapist to given a patient hearing and concurrence to all his views and delusions. When the patient receives a positive response from therapist, he becomes more co-operative and responsive. He is willing to share his thoughts and emotions with the therapists (Stage 2). After his negative defenses are lowered, the MI therapists make tactful observations and suggestions, taking care not to offend his feelings, since the session is still in progress. Tactfully, certain negative and unwholesome aspects are eliminated and positive emotions injected (Stage 3) Finally, the therapists render the client to seek positive energies through use of MI. (Stage 4).

This “elicits positive emotions of interest, hope, contentment and inspiration by inviting clients to envision a better future, to remember past successes, and to gain confidence in their abilities to improve their lives.” (Wagner & Ingersoll, 2008, pp. 191-206).

Motivational interviewing is a potent tool that could institute great positive transformational changes in the psyches and behavioral patterns of people to allow them to lead fuller, richer and accomplished lives. This could pave the way for better interpersonal relationships and render better contributions towards societal causes.


Wagner, Christopher C., & Ingersoll, Karen S. (2008). Beyond cognition: Broadening the emotional base of motivational interviewing. APA Psychenet. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 18(2), 191-206.

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