Motivational Interviewing: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Learn It

Presented by William R. Miller, PhD on 02-21-2014 at 9 a.m. Pacific to 11 a.m. Pacific (2 p.m. Eastern)

Motivational interviewing (MI) is widely recognized as an evidence-based, brief treatment method for helping to strengthen motivation for and commitment to change. Initially developed to treat people with alcohol and other drug problems, MI has spread rapidly into applications within healthcare, criminal justice, social work, coaching, rehabilitation, health promotion, and schools.

Professor Miller will describe the clinical method of this interactive interview and detail how MI has evolved over 30 years of development, drawing on a large clinical research literature on the efficacy, process mechanisms, and training of MI. This presentation is not intended to teach clinical skillfulness in the use of MI, but rather to provide an understanding of the clinical method, how it can be useful in practice, what is known about why it works, and how clinicians can develop competence in delivering it.

This web conference is intermediate instructional level and designed to help clinicians:

  1. Describe the clinical method of motivational interviewing and its relationship to client-centered counseling.
  2. Recognize at least five types of change-talk.
  3. Identify the four component processes that comprise motivational interviewing.
  4. Distinguish “resistance” from sustain talk and discord.
  5. Differentiate a “decisional balance” from motivational interviewing.

If you have any questions about this web conference or would like more information, please contact us here.

Event Reviews from Members

"Very informative. I like the presenter's style - I wish he had been one of my professors!" - Jama Thurman, LMHC

Continuing Education (CE) Information

Two CE credits will be provided by for attending this web conference in its entirety. is also an Approved Education Provider by NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals (provider #135463). Of the eight counselor skill groups ascribed to by NAADAC, this course is classified within counseling services. is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEPTM) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. maintains responsibility for this program and its content., SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0395. 

To receive CE credit hours for an archived event, you will need to complete a survey as well as a 12 or 15-question exam, verifying that you listened to or watched the event in its entirety. Archived CE events generally are considered "homestudy" by licensing boards.

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The person that’s trying to be a helper tends to make the arguments for change. And when you do that, the natural result is that the client will give you the counter-arguments for change. Because in essence what’s going on is you're externalizing the person's internal conflict with the helper taking the role of the pro-change side, leaving the client the other side.

So it's kind of like externalizing the person's conflict, with one person taking the pro-change side and the other taking the counter-change side and acting it out. And that might be alright except for a social-psychological principle that we listen to ourselves talk and thereby learn what we believe. And we're more likely to believe ourselves than we are to believe someone else who is talking to us.

So if I counsel in a way in which I'm arguing for change and my client thereby argues against it, it's exactly backwards from the way it should be. And what I want to be doing is to counsel in a way that causes the person to make their own argument for change, to voice their own motivations.

Now, this is very grounded in the work of Carl Rogers. About 80% of what we do is person-centered counseling; it’s based on those fundamental skills that Rogers described so well in the 1950s. And as Rogers believed, the thinking is the person already has within them what they need, and it’s a question of calling it forth. And so rather than trying to install things in a person that they're missing, coming from a kind of a deficit model, the model here is to call out that which the person already has—to invite them to voice their own reasons and their own motivations for change. And so it's very much in the humanistic, person-centered tradition of psychotherapy. - William R. Miller, PhD

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Meet the Presenter

William R. Miller, PhD

William R. Miller, PhD

William R. Miller, PhD, completed his degree in clinical psychology at the University of Oregon and has taught at the University of New Mexico since 1976, where he is now Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology. Dr. Miller directed the university's doctoral program in clinical psychology, and he was co-director for the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions (CASAA). Dr. Miller's work has focused on the development, dissemination, and testing of behavioral treatment for people who suffer from addictions.

Dr. Miller has authored 40 books and more than 400 articles or chapters and has consulted for the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, the United States Senate, and the National Academy of Sciences. His most recent books are Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change (3rd edition), and Treating Addiction: A Guide for Professionals. Dr. Miller has been awarded by the American Psychological Association twice for career achievement, and by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with the Innovators in Combating Substance Abuse Award. He was the recipient of the Jellinek Memorial Award and has been recognized as one of the most cited scientists by the Institute for Scientific Information. His passion is to combine spirituality and psychology as a pastoral counselor.

For more information on Dr. Miller, please visit

Continuing Education Provider Approvals

  • is Approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • Logo has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6380. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
  • Logo This course has been approved by, as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for educational credits. NAADAC Provider #135463. is responsible for all aspects of their programming.
  •, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0395.
  •, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists #MFT-0022 and for licensed mental health counselors #MHC-0031.

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