Spirit of Motivational Interviewing Copy

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Naar-King & Suarez (2010) place the Spirit of MI at the foundation of their pyramid (see diagram below) when describing the process by which, when used skillfully, the counseling strategies of Motivational Interviewing (e.g., person-centered guiding skills, strategies for responding to sustain talk, and eliciting change talk including a commitment to change) facilitate change. So understanding the Spirit of MI is essential in being able to use the specific counseling strategies associated with MI.

Spirit of MI Pyramid Diagram

Adapted from: Naar-King & Suarez, 2010, p. 16

Elements of the Spirit of MI

The Spirit of Motivational Interviewing includes the following elements:

  1. Partnership — Active collaboration between the provider and consumer — MI is not done to the person. The willingness of a consumer to open up and express concerns, hesitations, fears, frustrations, anger, and feelings of loss is likely to be increased by a positive, friendly, collaborative relationship. The provider remains a friendly consultant, always attempting to provide empathy and support, yet also willing and able to provide feedback and helpful suggestions to the consumer as the he or she becomes ready to consider them. The clinician/provider is de-centered, yet influential. The consumer/client/patient is centered in the conversation.
  2. Acceptance — 4 aspects of acceptance in the context of MI
    • Absolute Worth — Prizing the inherent worth and potential of every human being
    • Accurate Empathy — An active interest in and effort to understand the person’s internal perspective, reflected in genuine curiosity and reflective listening of the clinician (in previous versions of MI this was described as Expressing Empathy)
    • Autonomy Support — Honoring an respecting each person’s right to and capacity for self-direction (in previous versions of MI this was described as supporting self-efficacy)
    • Affirmation — Seek and acknowledge a person’s values and strengths
  3. Compassion — Actively promote a person’s welfare and give priority to his/her needs
  4. Evocation — People already have motivation, wisdom and resources within them; our job is to explore and evoke these resources and strengths
Source: Miller & Rollnick, 2013, pp. 14–24