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Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Motivational Interviewing for Mental Health & Addiction Treatment

Battling addiction and mental health issues can be a difficult journey, and it is an issue that affects millions of people. According to the national institute on alcohol, more than 14 million people over the age of 12 had an alcohol use disorder in 2019. Addiction and mental health issues can be incredibly difficult to handle alone. It takes a lot of courage to get help, but the support that comes from professional guidance can make a world of difference in the recovery process.

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a powerful tool for those dealing with drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and mental health issues because it leads to enhancing motivation and helps people explore internally motivated change. According to The Department of Health and Human Services, the effectiveness of motivational interviewing is backed by research.

By working closely with a therapist using motivational enhancement therapy techniques, individuals gain insight into how they should approach making changes that will benefit them long-term. Ultimately, motivational interviewing gives individuals the power back over their lives so that they can determine how best to move forward on their recovery journey.

Keep reading to learn more about motivational enhancement therapy/motivational interviewing and how Catalina Behavioral Health can help you recover today!

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What is Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)?

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on helping individuals develop problem-solving skills, better understand their motives for using drugs or alcohol, and make positive internally motivated changes in their lives. This type of therapy is often used when treating substance abuse or mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety.

The cornerstone of motivational enhancement therapy is “client-centered counseling” which emphasizes the client’s autonomy, and supports self-efficacy and self-determination during treatment sessions.

During these sessions, counselors use open-ended questions, affirmations, reflective listening techniques, and other methods to help clients explore the pros and cons of continuing with their current behaviors versus making positive changes in their lives. This approach must be utilized from the initial assessment and throughout a client’s care moving forward.

This encourages individuals to think critically about their decisions while also giving them the opportunity to articulate why they want to make certain changes.

The Motivational Enhancement Therapy Manual: Four Key Components of MET

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

While you don’t have to understand the exact techniques behind motivational enhancement therapy (MET), it can be helpful to understand what you’re doing and what therapists treating individuals with MET are trying to accomplish.

MET focuses on understanding client motivation and barriers, clarifying their values and goals, and developing a plan for behavior change. It’s important to understand the four key elements from the motivational enhancement therapy manual if you are considering this counseling approach.

Essentially, the client runs the show, not the therapist.


Engagement is the first element of motivational enhancement therapy, and it involves building a therapeutic relationship between the client and practitioner beginning at the initial assessment. This means creating an environment where open communication can occur without judgment or criticism.

A few motivational enhancement therapies and techniques used in this practice include expressing empathy, supporting self-efficacy, providing acceptance, and gaining familiarity with OARS (open questions, affirmations, reflections, summaries).

Empathy involves understanding how someone feels from their point of view; autonomy support is offering encouragement while allowing people to make their own decisions; acceptance allows people to express themselves without fear of criticism.

OARS helps to create practitioners create better questions that focus on open-ended conversations rather than closed ones.


The second element of motivational enhancement therapy is the focus. Focusing helps practitioners get a better sense of what the client wants to achieve in therapy so they can tailor the mental health and alcohol or drug addiction treatment plan accordingly.

In other words, it allows MET therapists and clients to narrow down what needs to be addressed during sessions so they can ensure progress is being made toward reaching desired outcomes.


The third element of this therapeutic approach is evoke, which involves recognizing, reflecting back on the client’s statements, and asking appropriate questions in order to elicit “change talk” from them. Practitioners never give unsolicited advice or tell a client why they have to change.

Instead, they draw out the client’s reasons for a commitment to change through reflection and questioning rather than lecturing or pressuring them into doing something they don’t want to do. This helps clients recognize their own intrinsic motivation for making changes in their lives rather than being told what changes need to be made by someone else. This will ultimately help build motivation.

Motivational enhancement therapy should always be nonjudgmental, and there shouldn’t be any direct confrontation based on the person’s resistance to behavioral change; it should come in the client’s own time and will be facilitated by the trusting relationship that therapists create.

Therapists should always avoid argumentation, even if they aren’t yet seeing positive change after the first session or second session. The therapist’s job in this counseling approach is to express empathy, facilitate self-motivation, and show respect to the client.


Planning is not necessary for the motivational enhancement therapy relationship if evoking is done well; however, it may be appropriate if the client needs more support or direction as they move forward with making changes in their life.

Asking key questions such as “What could be your next step?” and “How will you know when you have achieved success?” will help the care recipient stay focused on their goals while also providing structure for how they plan to get there.

Why Is Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) Effective For Substance Use and Other Disorders?

MET for Substance Use Disorder

Motivational interviewing has been found to be effective at treating various types of addictions and addictive behaviors, such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse and addiction, gambling addiction, eating disorders, compulsive shopping disorder, and other forms of addictive behavior.

This type of treatment helps individuals recognize any ambivalence they may have about making changes in their life while also helping them build self-efficacy so they can break free from unhealthy habits or behaviors. MI also helps people develop new skills that are necessary to maintain sobriety or abstinence from drugs or alcohol over time.

How Does Motivational Interviewing Help With Mental Health Issues?

Motivational interviewing can also be used to help treat mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. By exploring different thoughts and feelings through collaborative conversations with a therapist or counselor who specializes in this type of treatment modality, individuals can gain insight into why they feel certain emotions or act in certain ways when faced with challenging situations.

Through MI therapy sessions, clients are encouraged to identify sources of emotional distress so they can work towards developing healthier coping strategies for managing symptoms associated with depression or anxiety.

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Motivational Interviewing: Not a Stand Alone Treatment

Motivational interviewing therapy is a great treatment tool, but it needs to be used in conjunction with other modalities at times, especially for those suffering from severe drug abuse, addiction, and mental health issues. When finding treatment, it’s important to let clinical research guide your choices. The following are the other most common types of treatment available:

Group Therapy 

Group therapy offers a supportive environment where individuals can share their experiences without fear of judgment or criticism from others; these sessions generally involve both educational components as well as an open dialogue between members so everyone can learn from each other’s stories while providing encouragement along the way.

Support Groups

Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are also great resources for those looking for additional support outside of formal treatment settings; these groups offer an informal setting where individuals can come together to discuss common challenges related to sobriety.


Medical detox is a type of treatment that helps individuals manage withdrawal symptoms when they stop using drugs or alcohol. Detox can be completed in an inpatient or outpatient setting depending on the severity of the person’s drug abuse.

During detox, individuals will be monitored by medical professionals who can provide medications if needed to help alleviate any side effects from coming off substances. Detox does not typically address underlying issues and behaviors related to drug use and mental health; it is simply a way to manage physical withdrawal symptoms. 

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient programs involve living at a residential treatment facility for 30 days or more while receiving comprehensive care from clinical staff members specializing in addiction and mental health. Inpatient programs offer access to 24/7 care with around-the-clock monitoring which can be particularly beneficial for those with severe addictions or co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety.

Inpatient programs also provide opportunities for individuals to attend group therapy sessions as well as individual counseling sessions with a therapist or counselor who specializes in addiction and mental health topics.

Outpatient Treatment

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Outpatient programs allow individuals to receive treatment while living at home and continue attending their regular activities such as work or school but still receive therapeutic interventions on a weekly basis.

Outpatient programs typically involve attending individual and/or group therapy sessions with a therapist who specializes in substance abuse and/or mental health topics. These sessions may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), trauma-informed therapy, or others depending on the individual’s needs. 

Outpatient programs are less intensive than inpatient programs but still provide valuable resources for those struggling with substance use disorders and mental health concerns.

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Get Help with Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health Today

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is an effective form of therapy that helps people overcome addiction and mental health issues. It even helps people with chronic illness gain insight into themselves while working towards making meaningful changes in their lives.

By exploring thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, strengths, weaknesses, and goals related to the behavior being addressed during these sessions, individuals can learn how best to manage difficult situations while building self-confidence in a way that can support self-efficacy.

If you think you could benefit from motivational interviewing for your own mental health condition or substance use disorder, it’s important to consult with a qualified healthcare provider or mental health administration so you can get the help you need.

Contact Catalina Behavioral Health today to achieve change and have the life you deserve by utilizing this type of motivational psychology.

All calls are confidential, so please reach out in confidence to get options for yourself and a loved one today!

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