Many therapies involve, in most cases, telling the patient what to do and what not to do, hoping that he decides to follow this advice or, conversely, to continue adopting. behaviors that lead to discomfort and a dysfunctional lifestyle.
This is not the case motivation stimulation therapy, Which aims to motivate a change from within the patient, that is to say to make him take the reins of his life and to encourage him to improve the situation in which he finds himself.
This therapy, which, although it is part of clinical psychology, requires knowledge of the social sphere and organizations, has given quite promising results with various disorders. If you would like to know more about this therapy, we invite you to continue reading this article.
What is motivation stimulation therapy?
Motivation Stimulation Therapy (Motivation Enhancement Therapy) is a type of managerial treatment, which is focused on the person in charge to focus on be able to increase the patient’s motivation for change.
Usually, people who engage in self-destructive behaviors, such as addiction, self-harm, or risky behaviors, often display an ambivalent motivation for or directly for change. Despite this, these people they are aware, in most cases, that the behaviors they adopt are harmful to them both for themselves and for their immediate environment, as well as to harm their health.
Therapists specializing in this type of therapy can help the patient to have a more objective view of their own behavior, which can help them, once the problematic behaviors are analyzed, to be more inclined to change on their own.
Historical context of this therapy
Motivational stimulation therapy was one of three interventions first applied in 1993 as part of the MATCH project. This American project consisted of a clinical trial aimed at better understanding and improve existing treatments to fight alcoholism.
This therapy is based on knowledge gained in less clinical branches of psychology, such as organizations and coaching. Thus, motivation stimulation therapy takes aspects of human resources, such as motivational interviewing, led by William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, and adapts it to the therapeutic field.
Objectives and principles of this treatment
The main goal of therapy is be able to motivate the patient to be part of their change, Thus beginning the therapeutic process. Motivating him to be able to achieve his vital goals and to put aside or preferably extinguish his problematic behaviors will not only achieve a greater degree of well-being, but also to move away from what has hurt him and in its immediate environment.
In turn, when the patient sees that he is gradually able to do more things and that it was only a question of making the decision to initiate the change, he will feel more and more confident in himself and in his ability to face adversity. This is not done by asking the therapist to tell the patient what to do and what not to do, but by giving them feedback that encourages them to choose what is on offer.
Motivation stimulation therapy is based on five motivational principles, which must be applied and taken into account during treatment to ensure the best results:
1. Express your empathy
It is very important that a good professional relationship is generated between the patient and the therapist from the first therapy session. Both parties must trust each other, As part of what is considered therapeutically appropriate.
The patient must feel in a safe environment, in which he feels respected, listened to and accepted.
2. Develop a gap
The patient discusses his personal goals with the therapist. The professional is responsible for measuring the distance between the goal that the patient wishes to achieve and the state or situation in which he is currently.
3. Avoid discussions
During treatment, there should be no discussion with the patient. At this point, we are referring to discussions in the moderate sense of the word, that is, discussions about the negative experiences that led the patient to be in consultation.
Thus, during this brief therapy, rather than confronting the patient with the bad behavior, the therapist is responsible for providing positive responses and that they help the patient to grow as a person.
4. Adapt to endurance
Either way, aspects resistant to change will emerge throughout therapy. Such therapy he accepts that there are things that in such a short time cannot be overcome; therefore both the patient and the therapist must accept the existence of some resistance.
This point may seem counterintuitive, but the truth is that it is not advisable to treat the patient’s resistance first, as this will show a whole repertoire of defensive behaviors, causing therapy to stagnate.
5. Support self-efficacy
By self-efficacy we mean the ability of each to face adversity and know how to achieve their own goals in the most appropriate way.
In this therapy, the patient is motivated to be aware that he is capable of virtually anything that is offered, including the power to overcome his addiction.
Duration and development of therapy
This therapy is usually very brief and usually lasts about four sessions. The first session is usually the interview with the patient and the next three are the therapy itself.
Throughout the first session, the therapist talks to the patient about the problem that led to the consultation, whether it is an addiction problem or some other psychological disorder. Once the problem is understood, the goals the patient wishes to achieve are discussed. like that, therapist and patient collaborate in planning the rest of the treatmentBut always with the managerial role of the professional since he is the mental health professional. The rest of the sessions focus on achieving the set goals.
When setting the goals to be achieved, it is very important that the therapist does not engage in any kind of confrontation with the patient or judge him based on the condition he is in or what he has. done in the past. The goal, as already mentioned, is to improve one’s life, and therefore seeks to be the one who is motivated to make the change. It must also be said that during therapy it is better to avoid the use of diagnostic labels and focus on conceptualizing the problem in terms more understandable to the patient.
During therapy, the therapist does not give specific directions to the patient on what to do to improve. The perspective behind motivational stimulation therapy is that every patient has the resources to progress, what happens is that he or she is not motivated enough for the change or is just not aware. of its capabilities.
Due to its short duration and the way it is applied, this therapy is usually accompanied by the application of others. It is usually used to motivate the person before they enter more specialized therapies depending on the types of disorders, such as those related to mood or anxiety. As we have already mentioned, motivation is a crucial aspect to ensure that the therapeutic process meets the goals that one has set for oneself.
What disorders is it used for?
The main population group to which this therapy is applied is the people who suffer from some form of drug addictionWhether it is alcohol or illegal substances such as cocaine, marijuana and others. The therapist works for the patient to develop their own resolve to cope with their addiction.
As with other therapies in the field of substance detoxification, which are generally developed on a step-by-step basis, motivation stimulation therapy aims to arouse the patient’s interest. In other words, this therapy aims to bring about the change from within the patient.
It goes without saying one of the factors influencing its success is the patient’s own willingness to go to the consultation. Usually, those who visit the therapist on a completely voluntary basis are already self-motivated, waiting for the professional to know what to do to get out of the tunnel that the drugs have put them into. The therapist takes this opportunity to motivate them even more, showing them how they can control their own therapeutic process and be aware of what needs to be done to overcome the addiction.
According to the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, this type of therapy has been shown to be the best in terms of cost-effectiveness for the treatment of alcohol problems.
But it has not only been applied to people who suffer from some kind of addiction. It has been shown to be particularly useful in people with disorders such as eating disorders, anxiety problems or even gambling. In addition, according to research, it has shown results with people with the virus. of HIV, encouraging positive changes in their lives despite chronic illness and which, to this day, remains highly stigmatized.
- Huang, Y., Tang, T., Lin, C. and Yen, C. (2011). Effects of motivation enhancement therapy on willingness to change MDMA and methamphetamine use behaviors in Taiwanese adolescents. Substance Use and Misuse, 46, 411-416.
- Korte, KJ and Schmidt, NB (2013). Motivation enhancement therapy reduces sensitivity to anxiety. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 37, 1140-1150.
- Naar-King, S., Wright, K., Parsons, JT, Frey, M., Templin, T., Lam, P. and Murphy, D. (2006). Healthy Options: Motivational Enhancement Therapy for Health Risk Behaviors in HIV-Positive Youth. AIDS Education and Prevention, 18 (1), 1-11.
- Petry, NM, Weinstock, J., Morasco, BJ and Ledgerwood, DM (2009). Brief motivational interventions for players with college problems. Addiction, 104, 1569-1578.