IHI Open School Short
Video Transcript: What Is Motivational Interviewing?

Connie Davis, NP, Co-Director of Centre for Collaboration, Motivation and Innovation

Motivational interviewing really is, to me, a way of being with another person. It’s really built on a philosophy of how you work with another person in things that really matter to them.

Something to think about in motivational interviewing is that there are aspects in health care in which it’s important to be directive. If there’s an acute care situation and something really urgent needs to happen, the clinician needs to take control and that makes sense.

There are other aspects of care we do that we realize that following is the right thing to do. When somebody is making a really difficult decision, there is really no right or wrong answer. We just want to be with them while they think it through on their own.

Then there is this whole middle ground, where guiding is the right thing to do. That’s the part of a clinical encounter where people are really thinking about, “After I leave here, this is going to be something that is going to impact my daily life. How do I fit this in my daily life?” Then the clinician really is a guide. There are two kinds of expertise there — the clinician has some thoughts, but the person knows their life and know what they value.

Motivational interviewing is really a guiding style. It’s a guiding philosophy. That really allows you as a clinician to step back a little bit and put the control where it rests, which is with the patient, the family, and the caregiver.