How To Do Motivational Interviewing

How To Do Motivational Interviewing

Are Certain Clinician Personality Styles Attracted to Using MI?

Many clinicians can't conceive of relinquishing their current roles in the patient/provider relationship of "directing", "managing", and "telling". After all, clinicians are trained to do just that. The following comments are not uncommon:

    • "How will the patient know what to do?"
    • "I've spent years learning to be the expert in health matters. That's what I do."
    • "There's too much non-compliance for me to let go."
    • "I don't know any other way to work with patients."

It's not only foreign to them, but a role they can't even begin to imagine. After all, "everything from the neck up is "psychiatry" and only the neck down is meant for me, the clinician who manages the "medical" aspect of the patient's care. However, those of us who have learned to use motivational interviewing (MI) in clinical practice have seen the rewards a thousand times over and would never revert to the traditional approach we once used! Why is this the case?

Explicit in the spirit of MI is the clinician who is able to give up the expert role, who supports the client’s autonomy and expertise in decisions about change, and one who emphasizes empathy in their interactions with patients/clients(1). In essence, a 50/50 patient-provider partnership(2)! 


Personalities In Motivational Interviewing

   • Are certain personality types more attracted to the use of motivational interviewing?
   • Are there communication styles used by clinicians that encourage or inhibit the patient to talk 50% of the time in a conversation about their health?

Drawings of silhouettes with different brain structures in how to do motivational interviewing

Look at these four primary personalities or communication styles below identified by Alessandra and Hunsaker(2). It's not uncommon for styles to overlap.

Identify the one that most closely resembles your type or style!

Director: Prefers control; has decisive actions; driven by results 
Thinker: Likes structure; task-oriented; problem solver 

Socializer: Wants to be involved; spontaneous; thinks emotionally 

Relater: Desires relationships; avoids conflict; listens 
About Clinician Personality Styles when Using MI 

Clinicians and clinical educators who have had the role of "Directing" knowledge and who use MI have the pressure taken off them to "make" the patient do something. They now engage patients to safely decide for themselves how best to move forward and what to achieve.

Clinician "Thinkers" no longer have to solve the patients' problems. They engage their patients through MI and tap into the patient's own motivation to solve their health concerns.

Through MI, the "Socializing" clinicians now know how to involve their patients as 50/50 partners, allowing the patient full participation in the decision-making process.

"Relaters" have developed professional active listening skills to involve a patient and family in the healthcare discussion.

Any personality or communication style can adapt to MI with practice and with far better results than the traditional clinical approach of telling, directing or managing the patient and family! Learn how to do motivational interviewing and learn the evidence-based conversational skills of motivational interviewing within a health coaching context! 

(1) Moyers, T.B.,(2014). The relationship in motivational interviewing. Psychotherapy, 51(3). pp. 358–363 
(2) Huffman, M. and Miller, C. (2015). Evidence-based health coaching for healthcare providers, 3rd Ed. Chattanooga, TN: 
Starkey Printing.
(3) Alessandra, T. and Hunsaker,P. (1993). Communicating at work. New York: Fireside Books.

Learn More: 

Motivational Interviewing
Benefits of Motivational Interviewing

Motivation to Improve Sleep

Motivational Interviewing as a Health Coach