What is Motivational Interviewing?

August 3, 2021

Motivational interviewing is a set of social skills a clinician can use to communicate with their patient. It is a form of communication that is largely based on intrinsic encouragement to help people change a specific behavior.

Why Does Total Health Physio Offer Motivational Interviewing?

We use this technique to help our clients achieve their goals and live their best life!

In many of our cases, we provide clinical advice or recommendations to people, these might be:

  • Participating in a particular intervention (i.e. starting hydrotherapy or attending a community group)
  • Performing rehabilitation at home

As such, our Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists use motivational interviewing to encourage our patients to take part in various interventions.

What are the Key Principles of Motivational Interviewing?

There are three key principles that form the basis of motivational interviewing:

Change talk

A type of speech directed towards change.

One example is asking the patient to verbalise that they would like to change a certain behaviour. This could be a patient who is resistant to exercising say something like ‘I want to start exercising this week and it starts today’ – together we take a small step towards that change

Motivational interviewing spirit

The values that our clinicians adopt when giving the interview.

namely compassion, sensitivity, encouragement and listening with presence. Firstly, we must have compassion for a person’s sufferings and dedicate ourselves towards helping them, this is a prerequisite for rehabilitation. We do our best to hear if our patient is ready for change, or resistant to it.

Skills to bring out change talk

This is about being curious to learn more.

The four main skills are open-ended questions, affirmation, reflection and summarising. For example, we might ask ‘what are some reasons you’d like to exercise more?’ and the response might be ‘because i’m going to get stronger, improve my mood and take part in my community’. If people can start saying these kinds of things, then we’re on our way to making the right change!

Who Is Appropriate for Motivational Interviewing?

This style of interviewing can be appropriate to anyone. It is particularly useful for people who want to change yet are resistant to therapy.

It is an evidence-based strategy and accepted by the Physiotherapy / OT community. Total Health Physio works with adults (over 18) who are living with a physical or neurological disability.

How Does Motivational Interviewing Relate to NDIS Goals?

This largely depends on what the goal is. Motivational interviewing is more about helping the patient take a step towards their goal, or developing intrinsic motivation.

For example, a person’s NDIS plan may say ‘my goal is to improve my health and wellbeing through weight loss’ and the intervention is weight loss, then we may use Motivational Interviewing to help encourage someone to exercise and achieve their goal.

How Did Total Health Physio Learn About It?

Clinicians from Total Health Physio have attended a two-day seminar (taught by a clinical psychologist) to become certified in Motivational Interviewing. It is typically not something that is taught in undergraduate studies.

It is our role to educate our patients on the optimal physical rehabilitation frequency. Motivational Interviewing is a wonderful tool for us to assist those patients who may find it challenging to participate in rehabilitation for any reason.

What Would a Motivational Interviewing Session Look Like?

Typically in our assessments or home visits, the use of motivational interviewing is sporadic.

A common reason to use this technique is when reviewing a patient and they say they haven’t completed their rehabilitation over the past week. In which case, a bit of encouragement might help them get back on track.

We then might ask an open-ended question like ‘what are the reasons you have for making this change in your life?’ which may elicit a response such as ‘I’d like to walk my dog on the beach’, then we might discuss the exercise that would help achieve that.

It may be as short as a 5 minute conversation then we move onto performing exercises for the remainder of the session.

Does Total Health Have Any Related Success Stories?

Yes! Recently, one of our wonderful Physiotherapists was helping a patient who had pain in her back, arms and legs.

During the initial assessment, we found out that she was fearful of walking because it exacerbated her pain. So our physio used Motivational Interviewing and the patient spoke about her goals and then said ‘What can we do? How can we get started?’.

Together, we started a walking program and slowly built upon it. It’s been a few weeks now with minimal pain and she said to us ‘I’m keen to do even more, it’s been amazing, I feel great and I can see the benefits’. We are proud to have earned her trust.

Her favourite activity is to window-shop throughout Melbourne, a whole 20 minutes walk from her house!

Do You Know Someone that Might Benefit from Motivational Interviewing?

We would love to hear from you. Please note about Total Health Physio:

  • We are NDIS registered
  • Our values are Trust, Compassion & Care
  • We are active listeners
  • We work with adults throughout Southeast / West Melbourne

To start with Total Health Physio, please use our referrals or contact pages.

Contact Us