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Ten Things that Motivational Interviewing Is Not

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 February 2009

William R. Miller*
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA
Stephen Rollnick
Cardiff University, School of Medicine, UK
Reprint requests to William Miller, Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Logan Hall, Albuquerque, New Mexico NM 87131-1161, USA. E-mail:


Background: In the 26 years since it was first introduced in this journal, motivational interviewing (MI) has become confused with various other ideas and approaches, owing in part to its rapid international diffusion. Methods: Based on confusions that have arisen in publications and presentations regarding MI, the authors compiled a list of 10 concepts and procedures with which MI should not be addled. Results: This article discusses 10 things that MI is not: (1) the transtheoretical model of change; (2) a way of tricking people into doing what you want them to do; (3) a technique; (4) decisional balance; (5) assessment feedback; (6) cognitive-behavior therapy; (7) client-centered therapy; (8) easy to learn; (9) practice as usual; and (10) a panacea. Conclusion: Clarity about what does (and does not) constitute MI promotes quality assurance in scientific research, clinical practice, and training.

Research Article
Copyright © British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2009

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