Motivational interviewing1

A method of engagement to enhance motivation for change

Motivational interviewing is an engagement strategy that aims to enhance a person’s motivations and commitment to change. As a method of communication, motivational interviewing is inherently collaborative, seeking to guide rather than direct patients through change. Through the strategies of motivational interviewing, health care professionals can collaboratively explore patients’ motivations for change and formulate a plan of action.

The strategies of motivational interviewing include1:

  • Open-ended questions
  • Affirmative statements
  • Reflections
  • Summary statements

It can be helpful to use the acronym OARS to remember these strategies. The talking points and questions provided throughout the Rethink your obesity discussions guide model the motivational interviewing approach to help guide health care professionals in application with their patients.

Defining motivational interviewing1

According to motivational interviewing developers Steven Rollnick and William Miller, motivational interviewing is “a collaborative, goal-oriented style of communication with particular attention to the language of change. It is designed to strengthen personal motivation for and commitment to a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.”

Also in Professional Education:


Related Information

Ask, Listen, Inform

Our video, “Discussing Weight with Your Patients,” can help you improve office conversations about obesity.


  1. Miller WR, Rollnick S. Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change. New York, NY: Guilford Press; 2012.