Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy

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Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (2009), 37:129-140 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2009

Research Article

Ten Things that Motivational Interviewing Is Not

William R. Millera1 c1 and Stephen Rollnicka2

a1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA
a2 Cardiff University, School of Medicine, UK
Article author query
miller wr [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
rollnick s [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]


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.

Keywords:Motivational interviewing; clinical practice; client-centered; transtheoretical


c1 Reprint requests to William Miller, Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Logan Hall, Albuquerque, New Mexico NM 87131-1161, USA. E-mail: