A Step-by-Step Guide to Motivational Interviewing in Addiction Treatment

There are many reasons why people refuse to get treatment for their addiction. Most of those who avoid treatment do so because they lack motivation. Some feel that achieving sobriety would take too much effort while others are afraid of dealing with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Motivational interviewing is a therapeutic treatment technique used in addiction treatment programs to help people get motivated and committed to getting clean. This technique is based on the premise that motivation can be taught and encouraged. Unlike in traditional therapy, in motivational interviewing, the therapist doesn’t delve into the root causes of addiction. Instead, the focus is on encouraging the client to identify and find ways to solve their problems.

The Processes of Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing sessions are referred to as interviews and the therapist’s main role is to facilitate the client to set and work on their recovery goals. The aim is to give the client autonomy over the treatment process. If individuals feel that they’re in charge of their recovery, they’re likely to own the treatment process and become self-motivated to achieve and maintain sobriety.

The 4 processes involved in motivational interviewing include:


This is the first step and here the therapist spends time getting to know the client and puts them at ease with the process. The goal is to build rapport and form an alliance to work together toward achieving the client’s treatment goals. By creating a comfortable environment, the therapist can help the client open up, leading to a more productive and honest dialogue.


The next step is to help the client find a clear direction for treatment and recovery. Essentially, the client identifies the major problems they’re struggling with and determines what goals can help them overcome those problems. Those goals form the structure and basis of treatment.


This stage of motivational interviewing involves getting the client to identify their personal motivations for change. Why do they want to get clean? Is it for family, health or financial reasons, or all of these? Once the client starts talking about change, the therapist’s role is to focus on and amplify these reasons. It’s important to reinforce the client’s confidence that positive change is possible.


The last stage involves preparing the client for long-term sobriety. Here with guidance from the therapist, the client works out how they’ll deal with triggers and stressors to avoid relapse. This may involve the use of the coping mechanisms and relapse prevention strategies learned in an addiction treatment program.

Get the Help You Need

At Findlay Recovery Center, we know how difficult it is to beat addiction. By using motivational interviewing and other treatment methods in our drug treatment programs, we help clients recover from addiction. Don’t hesitate to contact us to see how we can help you or your loved one find sustainable recovery from drug or alcohol abuse.

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