Motivational interviewing is a therapeutic technique many
clinicians use to help a patient identify personal reasons for
undertaking the hard work of behavior change. Although originally
developed for the treatment of alcohol dependence, motivational
interviewing is now used to help patients overcome other types of
substance abuse, stop smoking, lose weight, increase physical
activity, and improve adherence to medical treatment.
Motivational interviewing shares much in common with the
transtheoretical or "stages of change" model of behavior change.
Although not universally endorsed, the transtheoretical model
holds that at any given time, a person is at a particular stage
in relation to behavior change: precontemplation, contemplation,
preparation, action, or maintenance.
At the precontemplation stage, people do not acknowledge how
serious the problem is, or even refuse to admit that they have a
problem. At the contemplation stage, they are aware of the
problem but have not yet decided to act. Especially for people
addicted to alcohol or drugs, the first steps are often the most
difficult, and many of them languish too long in the
precontemplation and contemplation stages. Motivational
interviewing is often best suited for these early stages of
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