Motivation stimulation therapy: characteristics and uses

Many therapies consist, in most cases, of indicating to the patient what to do and what not to do, hoping that he or she will decide to follow these tips or, on the contrary, continue to conduct behaviors that lead to discomfort and a style of dysfunctional life.

This is not the case of motivation stimulation therapy , with which it is intended to motivate a change from within the patient, that is, to make him take the reins of his life and be encouraged to improve the situation in The one found.

This therapy, which although it would be in clinical psychology, takes knowledge of the social field and organizations, has given quite promising results with several disorders. If you want to know more about this therapy, we invite you to continue reading this article.

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Motivation stimulation therapy, what is it?

The motivation stimulation therapy (in English ‘motivational enhancement therapy’) is a type of management treatment, focused on the person who is responsible for putting the focus on increasing the patient’s motivation for change .

Usually, people who carry out self-destructive behaviors, such as addictions, self-harm or risky behaviors, usually show an ambivalent motivation towards change, or directly none. Despite this, these people are aware, in most cases, that the behaviors they are doing harm both themselves and their immediate surroundings, as well as damaging their health.

Therapists specialized in this type of therapy can help the patient achieve a more objective view of their own behavior, which can contribute to the fact that, once the problem behaviors are analyzed, they are more prone to change by their own foot.

Historical background of this therapy

Motivation stimulation therapy was one of the three interventions applied for the first time in 1993 within the MATCH project. This American project consisted of a clinical trial focused on obtaining a better understanding and improving existing treatments in the approach to alcoholism .

This therapy is based on the knowledge obtained by less clinical branches of psychology, such as organizations and coaching. Thus, motivation stimulation therapy takes aspects of human resources, such as the motivational interview, prepared by William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, and adapts it to the therapeutic field.

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Objectives and principles of this treatment

The main objective of therapy is to motivate the patient to participate in their change , thus initiating the therapeutic process. Motivating him so that he can achieve his vital goals and set aside or, preferably, extinguish his problematic behaviors, not only will he achieve a greater degree of well-being, but he will also move away from that which harmed him and his closest environment.

In turn, as the patient sees that he is progressively able to do more things and that it was only a matter of making the decision to initiate change, he will feel increasingly confident in himself and in his ability to cope with adversities. . This is not achieved by having the therapist tell the patient what and what not to do, but to provide feedback with comments that encourage him to go for what he intends.

Motivation stimulation therapy is based on five motivational principles, which should be applied and taken into account during the treatment to ensure the best results:

1. Express empathy

It is very important that a good professional relationship is generated between the patient and the therapist since the first session of therapy. It is necessary that both parties trust the other , within what is considered therapeutically appropriate.

The patient must feel in a safe environment, in which he feels respected, heard and accepted.

2. Develop discrepancy

The patient discusses his personal goals with the therapist . The professional is responsible for measuring the distance between the goal that the patient wants to achieve and the state or situation in which he is currently.

3. Avoid discussions

During therapy, you should not have discussions with the patient. At this point, we refer to discussions in the moderate sense of the word, that is, to discuss negative experiences that have caused 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 offering positive responses that help the patient grow as a person.

4. Adapt to resistance

In one way or another, aspects that will be resistant to change will appear throughout the therapy. Therapy of this type accepts that there are things that in such a short time cannot be overcome ; That is why both patient and therapist must accept the existence of a little resistance.

This point may seem counterintuitive, but the truth is that it is not at all advisable to face the patient’s resistance at first, since doing so will show a whole repertoire of defensive behaviors, causing the therapy to stagnate.

5. Support self-efficacy

With self-efficacy we mean each person’s ability to face adversity and know how to achieve their own objectives in the most appropriate way.

In this therapy, the patient is motivated to be aware that he or she is capable of virtually anything that is proposed, including being able to overcome their addiction.

Duration and development of therapy

This therapy is usually very short, usually lasting about four sessions. The first session is usually the interview with the patient and the next three correspond to the therapy itself.

Throughout the first session, the therapist talks with the patient about the problem that has led him to consultation, be it a problem of substance addiction or any other psychological disorder. Once the problem is understood, the goals that the patient wishes to achieve are addressed. Thus, therapist and patient cooperate in the planning of the rest of the treatment , however, always with the managerial role of the professional since he is the mental health professional. The rest of the sessions focus on achieving the objectives set.

During the establishment of the goals to be achieved, it is very important that the therapist does not make any confrontation with the patient nor judge him by the state in which he is or what he has done in the past. The objective, as has already been said, is to improve his life, and for that he seeks to motivate him to make the change. It should also be said that during therapy it is preferred 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 guidelines to the patient of what they should do to improve. The perspective behind the motivation stimulation therapy is that each patient has the necessary resources to progress, what happens is that he is either not motivated enough to change or simply not aware of his abilities.

Due to its short duration and the way it is applied, this therapy is usually accompanied by the application of others. It usually serves to motivate the person before he enters more specialized therapies depending on what types of disorders, such as those related to mood or anxiety. As we have already commented, motivation is a crucial aspect to ensure that the therapeutic process meets the objectives one has set.

What disorders is it used for?

The main population group to which this therapy is applied are people who are suffering from some type of drug addiction , whether alcohol or illegal substances such as cocaine, marijuana and others. The therapist works so that the patient develops the will to cope with his drug addiction.

With respect to other therapies in the field of substance cessation, which are usually developed according to a step-by-step program, motivation stimulation therapy focuses on awakening the patient’s own interest. That is, this therapy aims to make the change come from within the patient.

It is possible to say that one of the factors that influence his success is the will of the patient himself when going to consultation . Normally, those who visit the therapist on a completely voluntary basis are already motivated by themselves, hoping that the professional knows what to do to get out of the tunnel in which the drugs have put them. The therapist takes advantage of this to motivate them even more, making them see how they can control their own therapeutic process and be aware of what to do to overcome the addiction.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the United States, this type of therapy has proven to be the best in terms of cost-effectiveness for the treatment of alcohol problems.

But it has not only been applied with those people who suffer from some type of addiction . It has been especially useful in people who suffer from disorders such as eating disorders, problems with anxiety or even gambling. Also, according to the research, it has given results with people with the HIV virus, encouraging positive changes in their lives despite having a chronic disease and that, today, is still very stigmatized.

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