Motivational Enhancement Therapy

About Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Motivational enhancement therapy is an approach in counseling that helps individuals resolve their ambivalence to engaging in treatment and stopping their use of drugs or alcohol. It is a directive, person-centered approach focused on improving a person’s motivation to change. Individuals engaging in self-destructive behaviors may often be ambivalent or have little motivation to create changes in their behaviors, despite acknowledging the negative impact on their life. A therapist with specialized training in MET often can help an individual to view their behaviors objectively, and with the use of MET, the individual may become empowered to begin the process of change.

A History of the Development of Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Motivational Enhancement Therapy was one of the three types of interventions tested in Project MATCH, which was a clinical trial of treatment options for those coping with alcohol addiction. This was part of an initiative of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Motivational Enhancement Therapy is based on the principles of motivational psychology and the employment of techniques associated with Motivational Interviewing. In MET, the techniques of Motivational Interviewing are incorporated into a structured therapeutic approach which involves the comprehensive assessment of an individual’s behaviors and a systematic feedback based on those findings.

With MET, the primary goal is to help individuals to overcome their ambivalence or resistance to changes in behavior. This therapy method focuses on raising awareness of a problem, adjusting any self-defeating thoughts about the problem, and increasing confidence in one’s ability to make change.

Five principles of Motivational Enhancement Therapy include:

  • Applied empathy - Therapists will create an environment of trust by expressing empathy, listening, and asking an individual to elaborate on their feelings and experiences.
  • Establish Discrepancy - This involves the principle of acknowledging the gap between a person’s desire for change and the current lifestyle they are living. Therapists will stress that MET is not necessarily focused on immediate gratification, but that benefits of this approach come with time, commitment, and work.
  • Argument Free Zone - Therapists that are certified in MET avoid judgement or attacking the person even if the individual is trying to start a fight. The use of positive responses to negativity are more effective in raising awareness of a problem or problematic behavior.
  • Understanding Resistance - MET therapists are trained to not confront resistance to change. This idea is rooted in the fact that change is not easy. Counselors will instead listen to the individual without judgement or defensiveness which can lessen a person’s resistance to change. This can also lead to providing fewer reasons to stop coming to therapy sessions.
  • Encouraging Self-efficacy - The most important part of any transformation is a person’s ability to believe that the power to change is within their control. Counselors will aid individuals in understanding that they have the skills needed to achieve their goals.

To learn more about Motivational Enhancement Therapy and therapies used in the treatment of addiction at Silicon Beach Outpatient Center, contact us today at 310.846.8215.