The Four Processes of Motivational Interviewing

The Four Processes of Motivational Interviewing

The core skills associated with Motivational Interviewing are easily remembered with the acronym OARS.” (Can you name them?)  These are the tools of MI and it is true that each tool has an important function, BUT it is just as important to know when and how to use them.  Therefore, an understanding of the Four Processes is necessary.

According to Miller and Rollnick the Four Processes include 1. Engaging, 2. Focusing, 3. Evoking and 4. Planning. What to change and whether to change begins with engagement and leads to focusing or targeting a specific area to change.  Once a behavior is targeted for change, the change agent evokes from the client ways to expand the possibility of change until finally the client is participating in developing the blueprint or plan for how change will happen in their lives.

Miller and Rollnick go on to say that the processes are linear and circular at the same time.  This means that each process builds on the prior one. “Each later process builds upon those that were laid down before and continue to run beneath it as a foundation.”

Let’s begin with a focus on the first process: Engaging…..

Engaging is when and how the working relationship between you and the client begins. It requires careful listening, empathy and giving the client space to offer their story.  It helps to avoid being the expert in their lives.  Further, demonstrating a willingness to understand the client’s perspective is key.  Taking the time to understand the client’s vision is crucial.  They may not be aware of how their current behavior is keeping them from the life they prefer. Engaging allows you to use the core skills to amplify ambivalence.