Motivation Stimulation Therapy: Characteristics and Uses

Motivation Stimulation Therapy

Motivation Stimulation Therapy: Characteristics and Uses

Many therapies consist, in most cases, of telling the patient what to do and what not to do, hoping that it is he or she who decides to follow this advice or, on the contrary, to continue performing behaviors that lead to discomfort and a style dysfunctional life.

This is not the case of motivational stimulation therapy, which is intended to motivate a change from within the patient, that is, to make him the one who takes control of his life and is encouraged to improve the situation in the one that is.

This therapy, which although it would be within clinical psychology takes knowledge of the social field and of 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.

Motivation Stimulation Therapy, what is it?

Motivational enhancement therapy is a type of directive treatment, centered on the person who is in charge of putting the focus on increasing the patient’s motivation towards change.

Usually, people who carry out self-destructive behaviors, such as addictions, self-harm, or risky behaviors, tend to show an ambivalent motivation towards change, or not at all. Despite this, these people are aware, in most cases, that the behaviors they are engaging in harm both themselves and their immediate environment, in addition to damaging their health.

Therapists specialized in this type of therapy can help the patient to achieve a more objective view about his own behavior, which can contribute to that, once the problem behaviors are analyzed, he is more prone to change on his own foot.

Historical background of this therapy

Motivational stimulation therapy was one of the three interventions first applied 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 management of alcoholism.

This therapy is based on the knowledge obtained by less clinical branches of psychology, such as organizations and coaching. Thus, motivational stimulus 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 setting.

Objectives and principles of this treatment

The main objective of therapy is to motivate the patient to be a participant in their change, thus initiating the therapeutic process. Motivating him so that he can achieve his vital goals and put 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 what was hurting 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 the change, he will feel more and more confident in himself and in his ability to face adversity. This is not achieved by having the therapist tell the patient what and what not to do, but by providing feedback with comments that encourage him to go for what is proposed.

Motivational stimulation therapy is based on five motivational principles, which must be applied and taken into account during treatment to guarantee the best results:

  1. Express empathy

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

The patient must feel in a safe environment, in which they feel respected, listened to, and accepted.

  1. Develop discrepancy

The patient discusses his personal goals with the therapist. The professional is in charge of measuring the distance between the objective that the patient wishes to achieve and the state or situation in which he or she is currently.

  1. Avoid arguments

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, discussing negative experiences that have led the patient to consult.

Thus, during this brief therapy, rather than confronting the patient with the bad behavior of his behavior, the therapist is in charge of offering positive responses that help the patient grow as a person.

  1. Adapt to resistance

In one way or another, aspects that will be resistant to change will appear throughout the therapy. The 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.

  1. Support self-efficacy

With self-efficacy, we refer to the capacity of each person to be able to face adversity and to know how to achieve their own objectives in the most appropriate way.

In this therapy, the patient is encouraged to be aware that he or she is capable of practically anything that is proposed, including being able to overcome his or her addiction.

Duration and development of therapy

This therapy is usually very brief, 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 led him to the consultation, be it a substance addiction problem or any other psychological disorder. Once the problem is understood, the goals that the patient wants to achieve are addressed. Thus, the therapist and patient cooperate in planning the rest of the treatment, however, always with the directive 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 kind of confrontation with the patient nor does he judge him by the state he is in or what he has done in the past. The objective, as has already been said, is to improve his life, and for this, he is the one who is motivated to make the change. It can also be said that during therapy it is preferred to avoid the use of diagnostic labels and to focus on conceptualizing the problem in terms that are more understandable to the patient.

During therapy, the therapist does not give the patient-specific guidelines on what to do to improve. The perspective behind motivational stimulus therapy is that each patient has the necessary resources to progress, what happens is that they are either not motivated enough for change or simply not aware of their capabilities.

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 entering more specialized therapies according to what types of disorders, such as those related to mood or anxiety. As we have already been commenting, motivation is a crucial aspect to ensure that the therapeutic process meets the objectives that 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, be it alcohol or illegal substances such as cocaine, marijuana, and others. The therapist works so that the patient develops his own will to face 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, motivational stimulation therapy focuses on awakening the patient’s self-interest. That is, this therapy aims to make the change come from within the patient.

You may also like to read: Apply These Secret Techniques To Improve Motivation

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