The Power Of Motivational Interviewing
As therapists we might not conceptualize our task as such but what we’re fundamentally concerned with is helping our clients change. If they think, feel, and act the exact same way after the therapeutic endeavor as they did before it then the whole thing was pointless.
The specific type of change being fostered has everything to do with the underlying philosophy. But what’s truly amazing, and it’s a symptom of the narcissism inherent in everyone, including therapists, is that many of us try to get clients to meet us where we are psychologically in order to use that space as the platform for change rather than trying to meet clients where they are psychologically in order to use that space as the platform for change.
Trying to get clients to meet us where we are instead of meeting them where they are is a flawed approach that wastes a lot of time. Even if what we’re describing is spot on and valuable from the objective psychological point of view this information is going to fall on deaf ears unless it’s tailored to the current psychological reality of the specific client.
The power of motivational interviewing is that it provides a structure for isolating in which stage of change a client currently resides. When you can isolate the stage of change you can offer psychological insight that actually makes sense, insight that feels real and relevant because it’s tailored to the specific client’s psychological head space.
As we’ve written elsewhere, the stages of change are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. With these stages of change in the back of your mind it’s usually exceedingly easy with just a few questions to determine where a client is in these stages, and with this knowledge it becomes obvious that if change is the goal then simply helping the client prepare to move to the next stage of change is the best way to go about achieving this goal, that trying to make them jump a few stages all at once is a complete waste of time that’s only going to lead to frustration and failure. You have to learn to crawl before you can learn to walk and that’s kind of the idea behind the stages of change. They slice the process of change up into discrete parts so that the whole endeavor can be charted and tracked.