What is Motivational Interviewing?

What is Motivational Interviewing?Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a style of communication used to help people change. It does so by clarifying motivation.

MI communication supports people to consciously form intentions based on available options, and therefore more wholeheartedly commit to processes necessary to make desired changes.

Motivational Interviewing pays special attention to the use of “change language”, or the ways that choices and commitments are framed in the client’s wording.

MI is an evidence-based practice, having demonstrated effectiveness in a variety of settings. Its special gift is to help move people out of ambivalence and inner conflict, into genuine readiness for positive action.

Motivational Interviewing focuses on empowering people who are considering making changes in their lives to identify and pursue self-chosen goals. The emphasis on each person identifying and choosing their own goals before they are asked to commit to a change is a defining feature of this method.

Evidence demonstrates that goals are much, much more likely to be achieved when a person undergoing a change process has fully chosen from their own free will to undergo a change for their own truly personal reasons, rather than as submission or conformity to outer people’s wishes or authority.

Motivational Interviewing places a high amount of value on client autonomy, emphasizing full equality with the Motivational Interviewing practitioner, and recurrently highlights the free will choice of the person considering a change.

The goal of Motivational Interviewing is to supportively partner with a person to assist them in resolving ambivalence, making clear choices that are based on one’s own fully-completed decision-making process, however long that takes. That said, MI is known for reducing time spent in pre-change stages by helping remove inner conflicts and ambivalence that don’t need to last quite as long if it is helpfully highlighted for the client.

Motivational Interviewing represents respect for the right of each individual to come to their own conclusions and decisions based on their own values, experiences, common sense, and desires, as opposed to the idea that goals can or should be imposed from the outside.

Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative approach, in which an environment of compassion and acceptance facilitates an individual exploring their own deepest and most resonant reasons for wanting to change.

Core Elements of Motivational Interviewing

Core Elements of Motivational InterviewingMotivational Interviewing is comprised of listening and direction both, but favors deep listening and guides practitioners to give advice only when genuinely sought.

Additionally, Motivational Interviewing focuses on restoring a person’s self-image and positive outlook when it comes to the change process itself, essentially helping people experience and recognize that they are perfectly capable of making permanent positive changes and committing to goals when those goals are truly and deeply chosen for one’s own reasons.

Most people find that changing behavior is easy when one’s will is fully 100% lined up to a change when all parts of oneself are on board with a transformation process, but quite hard when ambivalence or inner conflict is still present.

MI practitioners engage as equal partners with a client to help clear up inner conflicts and clarify choices and values, all of which make it much easier to identify a desired change and commit to doing the work of ensuring the change.

Motivational Interviewing is effective in a lot of contexts, but is especially helpful when people have very mixed feelings about changing and may feel stuck in a place of indecision or “analysis paralysis”. It is also very helpful when people are only beginning to consider a change, and when self-esteem with respect to one’s ability to make changes is low.

Overall, Motivational Interviewing emphasizes partnership, supporting people to recognize their own power and resources, compassion, and acceptance.

Motivational Interviewing techniques include the following:

  • Open questions
  • Affirmation
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Mirroring
  • Learning about each other through the process

A practitioner of MI will prioritize establishing a good relationship that makes engagement possible, focusing on key areas of life related to the change question, encouraging people to share their deeper reasons for wanting or not wanting to change, and when appropriate, assisting in creating a personalized plan for change.

Villa Kali Ma Offers Motivational Interviewing for Women

Motivational Interviewing has gained popularity in treatment settings around the world because it is particularly effective for helping people with addiction to recover.

Motivational Interviewing is incorporated into our methods at Villa Kali Ma in our treatment offerings for women because we find it to be an effective, helpful way for women to clarify their choices and feelings.

Women with substance addiction often feel very ambivalent about change, or even resistant to changing. Typically, when caught in the web of addiction we feel depressed and demoralized, with low expectations of our personal ability to change, due to the ways that addiction targets our willpower.

Motivational Interviewing fits well with our other modalities and treatment approaches, in which high priority is placed on each individual being’s right to choose their own outcomes and to experience the results of their own choices, so as to be able to learn from one’s own path.

At Villa Kali Ma, we know that each woman is unique and that each life path is valid in its own right. We are not interested in forcing a woman to conform to a set of rules or guidelines that don’t feel right for her for whatever her reasons.

Rather, we are interested in supplying supportive structures and guidelines that are proven to work, which a woman can commit to follow once she has decided to experience a certain outcome for herself. When a woman wants to change, knows exactly why she wants that change, and remembers that she can change, all that remains is to walk through the change process.

It takes significant courage to change, that is true. But at the same time, there is nothing in the world that can get in the way of a woman with a deeply chosen intention. We use Motivational Interviewing to help you find and commit to what it is that you want to be creating with your life. Then we help you make the changes, heal, and recover so that you can go on to do exactly that.

Villa Kali Ma Outpatient Treatment for Women

3790 Via De La Valle # 313
Del Mar, CA 92014

(760) 903-5758


Call Villa Kali Ma at (760) 350-3131 or contact us to learn about our Intensive Outpatient Program for women.


It was the best 30 days of my life.


Villa Kali Ma provides a holistic, supportive, therapeutic retreat for women to recover from trauma & substance disorders. The intensive and comprehensive approach provides a compassionate path of learning, awareness, and self-love for healing. I am grateful for the sacred space provided for my reflection, my mind-body-spirit work, and my opportunity to connect with other women in this process.


Villa Kali Ma changed my life in every single aspect. Not only did the experience help me get sober and stay sober for over a year now, but I was finally able to work on my past trauma in a safe and stable environment. Not a day goes by that I’m not using a healthy tool they taught me. I am forever grateful to the staff and strong women I spent my time with there. Truly the most profound life changing month of my life.





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Licensed by the State of California: Department of Health Care Services

Villa Kali Ma is an in-network provider with Anthem BCBS, Multiplan, First Health, Healthnet, and currently accepts most
PPO plans with out-of-network benefits. Call (760) 350-3131 for information on cost and payment options.