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Resistance is futile? Exploring the potential of motivational interviewing

Watson, John


John Watson


Resistance to change is a common theme in practice and can often appear counter-productive. Motivational interviewing is a counselling approach that views resistance as a normal response to the ambivalence experienced in relation to change. To date, it has been used more in the field of substance misuse where research evidence suggests that it is an effective approach when ambivalence is encountered, because of the focus placed on enhancing people's intrinsic motivation for change. Motivational interviewing is used in some health contexts in the UK, but to date it is not an approach that has been widely adopted in social work, although there have been some attempts to explore its potential (Forrester et al., 2007). This article aims to explore why this is so and to discuss its potential in a range of settings, highlighting its compatibility with social work values. It draws on my experience of using this approach as a social work practitioner working in the field of substance misuse and argues that motivational interviewing has a place in modern practice. However, it states that for this approach to be adopted successfully there needs to be a review of the importance of counselling skills and relationship-based approaches within social work, and how these are represented and promoted in the current managerialist agenda.


Watson, J. (2011). Resistance is futile? Exploring the potential of motivational interviewing. Journal of social work practice, 25(4), (465-479). doi:10.1080/02650533.2011.626653. ISSN 0265-0533

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2011-12
Print ISSN 0265-0533
Electronic ISSN 1465-3885
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 4
Pages 465-479
Keywords Social Sciences (miscellaneous); Health(social science); Drug guides
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