In the following pages I will compare and contrast motivational interviewing with
another style of interview called solution-focused. My intent is to be clear, to define and give
examples of these forms of interview, as if for the novice. I will briefly report on the history of
each one and how the two styles came about. Also, the purpose of and the specific methods
imparted by these two techniques will be examined. Both similarities and differences in these
approaches will be brought to light and I will conclude with personal reflection.
Motivational Interviewing came about initially as a way to help people dealing with
substance abuse and addiction problems. Bill Miller and Steve Rollnick are the therapists that
created Motivational Interviewing in the late 1970’s. To give background, in the late 1970’s the
only requirement by the state to provide addiction counseling was that the provider be in
recovery him/herself. This was because we had almost no research on what addiction actually
was; therefore, we could not possibly introduce successful treatment modalities.
Solution Focused Interviewing started a little later than Motivational Interviewing by
therapists Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg in the early 1980’s. Their practice evolved over
time from a psychodynamic model into the social constructionist philosophy of Solution
Focused Interviewing, and now Solution Brief Therapy. Solution Focused Interviewing is more
task based and goal oriented due to the limited duration of sessions. It is used by social workers
and other professionals in helping fields.
Miller and Rollnick realized that clients were not finding success in treatment because
there was no outline, no format for addiction counselors to follow. They saw counselors
becoming frustrated with clients’ lack; essentially telling them to come back to therapy when
they were ready to change. Many clients, when they first come to therapy have distorted...