Motivational Interviewing (M.I.) arose during the 1980s from alcohol counseling research. This research began to suggest that certain types of brief counseling interactions could be as effective as more lengthy interventions and that a certain kind of provider style was better at eliciting change.
M.I. is a person-centered communication method of fostering change by helping a person explore and resolve ambivalence. Rather than using external pressure, MI looks for ways to access internal motivation for change. It borrows from client-centered counseling in its emphasis on empathy, optimism, and respect for client choice. M.I. also draws from self-perception theory, which says that a person becomes more or less committed to an action based on the verbal stance he or she takes. Thus, an offender who talks about the benefits of change is more likely to make that change, whereas an offender who argues and defends the status quo is more likely to continue his or her present behavior.