Psy-Q: Is motivational interviewing being integrated enough in the mental health care field?

Ravi Prasad, PhD

Ravi Prasad, PhD

Answer: “Motivational interviewing can be very effective in helping individuals move toward positive change; unfortunately, I believe that it is underutilized overall and that there is room for greater adaptation of this approach,” says Ravi Prasad, PhD, director of Behavioral Health at the University of California Davis School of Medicine’s Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine.

Part of the challenge is that many therapists have a general familiarity with MI but do not feel as comfortable applying it in sessions with their patients.

For providers looking to expand their motivational interviewing skills, Dr. Prasad suggests exploring the technique through specialty-specific training and then practicing putting it to use. The more you use it, the more comfortable you will get with it, he stresses.

He adds the following caveat: “MI is not a stand-alone technique that is used during a session to make a person do something; rather, it an approach that is taken to help a person initiate or maintain change in their lives.”

When used in the appropriate context, the potential of MI for patients is strong.“Intrinsic motivation is a powerful agent that facilitates change across many areas of our physical and emotional functioning,” he says. 

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Last Updated: May 13, 2021