Motivational Interviewing

In Benefits Articles, Blog, Featured, News, Training Articles by Anna Nickolai

Many have heard the buzz about motivational interviewing (MI) and its success for the past several years. However, beyond the buzz, many still have questions about what MI is or isn’t as well as how to incorporate concepts of MI into everyday client interactions.

What is MI is not:

  • a way of tricking people into doing what you want them to do;
  • a technique for giving better advice;
  • the same as client-centered therapy;
  • easy to learn;
  • a counseling “tool”.

What MI is:

  • Focuses on the present;
  • None directive;
  • None judgmental and empathic;
  • A counseling method to facilitate:
    • intrinsic motivation;
    • awareness of potential problems and solutions;
    • envisioning a better future;

The Spirit of Motivational Interviewing

Before embarking on learning and implementing the various concepts of MI, let’s start by outlining the spirit of this approach. By understanding the spirit or intrinsic qualities of MI, you will be on your way to understanding this technique. Here are some key components that capture the spirit of motivational interviewing:

  • Collaboration: working in partnership;
  • Evocation: drawing out ideas and solutions;
  • Autonomy: supporting self-efficacy;
  • Empathy: careful and attentive listening.

By first refining these micro-skills you will be better able to understand and practice motivational interviewing. Watch for more articles with tips on how to use different MI techniques in everyday consumer interactions and caseload management.

About the Author
Anna Nickolai

Anna Nickolai

Anna recently joined ERI as a Benefits and Employment Specialist for the BOND (Benefits Offset National Demonstration) Project. She came to ERI after spending some time getting to know us through an internship while a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Rehabilitation Psychology. Anna has past experience working with individuals with disabilities as an intern for both the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Addictive Disorders Treatment Program at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital. More about Anna...

About the Author
Kate Kingree

Kate Kingree


Kate manages the ERI PLUS Ticket to Work program. She is passionate about assisting people with disabilities and promoting self-advocacy. Her previous vocational and academic background focused on wellness and prevention in the areas of community outreach, research, policy development and grant administration. More about Kate...