How Motivational Interviewing Can Help Treat Your Depression

How Motivational Interviewing Can Help Treat Your Depression

Whether depression is a recent problem or something you’ve struggled with throughout your life, you know that this tenacious mental health condition can have far-reaching effects on your everyday life as well as your outlook on the future.  

Given its intense and often all-consuming nature, it’s not surprising that persistent depression can give rise to ambivalence and conflicting desires — you may find yourself wishing your life could change for the better but also believing that you’re unable to take steps toward such change. 

That’s where motivational interviewing comes in. 

As part of a comprehensive treatment plan for depression, motivational interviewing takes an evidenced-based approach to self-improvement and behavioral modification that focuses on one key idea: The only meaningful change comes from within

Here, our seasoned mental health experts at EXIS Recovery Inc. discuss the ins and outs of motivational interviewing and explain how it can support your recovery from depression. 

What is motivational interviewing?

Motivational interviewing is a collaborative, client-centered counseling technique that helps you find the right motivation — or motivation that’s meaningful to you — to make a positive behavioral change. This empowering approach is particularly beneficial for people who have mixed feelings about their desire or ability to affect change for the better. 

Initially developed in the early 1980s as a supportive therapy for alcohol addiction treatment and recovery, motivational interviewing has become an established evidence-based practice in treating people with substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression.

It’s also an effective tool for addressing various other health behaviors and conditions, ranging from diabetes control and smoking cessation to dietary and physical activity habit changes.  

How does motivational interviewing work?

Motivational interviewing is a goal-oriented counseling method that aims to affect positive, self-directed change by helping you:

In short, motivational interviewing is designed to take you from asking, “Should I make positive changes?” to “How can I make positive changes?”

A collaborative approach 

Motivational interviewing emphasizes collaboration over confrontation. With this approach, you develop a level, non-hierarchical partnership with your counselor that focuses on your point of view and experiences rather than your counselor’s expertise and instruction. Instead of imposing their own ideas and views on you, your counselor listens attentively, stresses mutual understanding, and offers empathetic guidance.    

An evocative technique

The animating idea behind motivational interviewing is that motivation to change comes from within — not from external influences, including your counselor. Accordingly, your counselor’s task is to help you discover your own reasons and determination to change and to “draw out” those motivations and intentions, not tell you what to do or why you should do it. In short, the motivational interviewing method is an evocation rather than an education.     

Your autonomy is central 

Besides acknowledging that the true power for change comes from within, the motivational interviewing method also recognizes that it’s up to you to follow through and instigate your desired changes. This “autonomy over authority” mindset empowers you to assert yourself confidently, set your course, and take responsibility for your actions each step of the way. 

Motivational interviewing for depression

Motivational interviewing doesn’t try to “get you to change” yourself through expert advice, confrontation, instructing, directing, or warning. Instead, it views you as the capable person who knows yourself best and creates an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion to help you elicit, express, and explore your reasons for wanting to change.  

It’s especially effective for treating depression when it’s part of a multimodal treatment plan that may also include medication, individual talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and mind-body practices, among other methods. It may be particularly useful for you if you have: 

To learn more about motivational interviewing and how it can support your recovery from depression, call 424-220-6199 today, or click online to schedule a visit at EXIS Recovery Inc. in West Los Angeles, California, any time. 

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