The Goals of Motivational Interviewing


Motivational interviewing is a technique used by health professionals and psychiatrists when interviewing a patient. The technique allows the patient to discuss openly the problems or issues at hand. Motivational interviewing is only one technique out of many that has the goal of allowing the patient to recognize the problem and tackle it with the support of a psychiatrist or other health professionals. The technique has several goals, which expand beyond the interview itself.


One of the main goals of using motivational interviewing techniques is to get the interviewee to recognize a problem or issue at hand. This is accomplished by a series of open-ended but specific questions. The psychiatrist or health professional asks the questions with the aim of opening up discussions about issues or situations that may cause the patient to think or act a certain way, for instance. The goal is to have the patient recognize the problem by discussing the answer, rather than have the health professional provide the answer for him.


Another goal of motivational interviewing is acceptance. Once the patient has recognized the issue or troubles at hand, the health professional must help the patient accept the reasons for certain behavior or feelings. Because the patient has discovered the problem herself, she is more likely to be motivated to work toward improving her actions or feelings.

Planning the Future

Rather than simply leaving the patient with the new information, the psychiatrist must also help the patient plan ahead. Motivational interviewing techniques allow the patient to gain useful skills to cope with the feelings and emotions in hopes of a better and prosperous future. The future planning is often influenced by the patient’s reaction to the recent discovery and how she is able to accept it.

Other Uses

Although motivational interviewing is most commonly used in a medical or health-related field, some employers may also use the strategy with employees in the workplace. Employers may use the motivational interview technique to get the employee to realize what can be improved in his method of working. The employer may ask open-ended questions to gain insight into how the employee is thinking or approaches the work. By discussing the information himself, the employee may realize that his work approaches are ineffective.

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