By Rachel Jeffrey
Diabetes Queensland exercise physiologist
Motivational interviewing is used by health professionals in a
diverse range of health settings and populations to foster and
support behavioural change in clients.
Motivational interviewing is a collaborative conversation aimed
at enhancing clients' internal motivation by exploring and
resolving their ambivalence to behavioural change.
The "spirit" of motivational interviewing includes three core
principles: collaboration, evocation (client's own motivation), and
Motivational interviewing challenges traditional advice-giving
strategies by forming a collaborative relationship between the
client and health professional, making the client the expert in
their own care.
This approach allows the client to see discrepancies between
actual behaviours and desired health behaviours through eliciting
their own motivation for change and how to proceed.
The health professional acknowledges the client's freedom of
choice, asks open-ended questions and expresses true empathy.
Unlike traditional approaches to behaviour change, the health
professional avoids falling into the trap of telling the client
what is best for them as they roll with resistance and avoid
Resistance is acknowledged and explored rather than opposed,
with the view to shifting the client's perspective using a
If advice is given by the health professional in this approach,
it is given with permission from the client and accompanied by the
client's active encouragement to ultimately make their own choice
and ongoing decisions.
Motivational interviewing has been shown to support and enhance
self-efficacy for the client through affirming their ability to
make their own decisions.
Motivational interviewing is therefore encouraged to explore
ambivalence and highlights why simple advice giving is ineffective
to long-lasting behavioural change in healthcare.