Motivational Interviewing Goals and Components

Various researchers emphasize different components of a motivational interview. The spirit of motivational interviewing is based on three elements: collaboration of a social worker and a patient, evocation or encouraging patients to provide personal reasons to change their behavior, and a focus on the patient’s autonomy as only patients have the leading role in these changes (Morton et al., 2015). In addition, scholars highlight specific techniques as motivational interviewing elements: reflective listening and action reflections encouraging people to express their plans for change (Resnicow et al., 2012). According to another theory, motivational interviewing has two components: a technical component, including the actions of evoking and drawing out change talk of a patient, and a relational component, including social workers’ style of interviewing and attitude (Morton et al., 2015). Motivational interviewing could also include setting goals, feedback activity, self-monitoring, and action planning.

The goal of motivational interviewing is to foster behavior change in patients by creating an atmosphere of empathy, focusing on the dissonance between status-quo behaviors and wishes, and encouraging patients to verbalize their arguments for change (Lundahl & Burke, 2009; Morton et al., 2015). Change talk of a patient is crucial in motivational interviewing because people are more likely to accept and follow opinions they articulate themselves (Resnicow et al., 2012). Thus, people themselves find the sources of their intrinsic motivation.

In a clinical situation, motivational interviewing could be utilized to prompt a change in a wide range of conditions. If practitioners think that substance abuse affects their patient’s health, they often apply such a technique. It also could be used to foster physical activity, changes in a patient’s diet, and increase the engagement of patients in their treatment process (Lundahl & Burke, 2009). For example, medical social workers could resort to motivational interviewing to encourage their patients with cardiovascular diseases and obesity to change their diet and start doing physical exercises. Professionals could apply it to motivate a person with mental disorders, reportedly beginning drinking alcohol, to stop doing this as that could develop new symptoms.

Motivational interviewing also could be effective outside of clinical settings. It could help resolve public health issues, such as substance intake, risky behavior, oral health, and gambling, focusing on health promotion (Lundahl & Burke, 2009; Morton et al., 2015). It is used to encourage people to stick to healthy habits. For example, a public social worker could apply motivational interviewing to a teenager who has just started smoking or a young woman with drinking problems, who could further possibly bear a child with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Hence, motivational interviewing is widely used in rehabilitation and substance abuse as the most traditional fields. However, such a treatment measure is likely to be applied by professionals in the mental health field and prevention care. In primary care, it also could be widely used to address the needs of patients with diseases resulted from unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes supplemented by excessive weight or obesity.


Lundahl, B., & Burke, B. L. (2009). The effectiveness and applicability of motivational interviewing: A practice-friendly review of four meta-analyses. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65(11), 1232–1245. Web.

Morton, K., Beauchamp, M., Prothero, A., Joyce, L., Saunders, L., Spencer-Bowdage, S., &… Pedlar, C. (2015). The effectiveness of motivational interviewing for health behaviour change in primary care settings: A systematic review. Health Psychology Review, 9(2), 205-223. Web.

Resnicow, K., McMaster, F., & Rollnick, S. (2012). Action reflections: A client-centered technique to bridge the WHY–HOW transition in motivational interviewing. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 40(4), 474–480. Web.

Cite this paper

Select style


PsychologyWriting. (2022, October 22). Motivational Interviewing Goals and Components. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2022, October 22). Motivational Interviewing Goals and Components.

Work Cited

"Motivational Interviewing Goals and Components." PsychologyWriting, 22 Oct. 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Motivational Interviewing Goals and Components'. 22 October.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Motivational Interviewing Goals and Components." October 22, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Motivational Interviewing Goals and Components." October 22, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Motivational Interviewing Goals and Components." October 22, 2022.