By Bruce Berger, PhD, FAPhA

Motivational interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based approach used to help individuals (patients) resolve their ambivalence or resistance to behavior change. 𝐌𝐨𝐭𝐒𝐯𝐚𝐭𝐒𝐨𝐧𝐚π₯ 𝐒𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐒𝐞𝐰𝐒𝐧𝐠 𝐒𝐬 ππŽπ“ πšπ›π¨ut 𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐒𝐯𝐚𝐭𝐒𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐚𝐭𝐒𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬.  It is about exploring a patient's motivation.  It is a well-studied, client (patient) - centered approach that explores the patient's ambivalence or resistance (motivation) through the use of several skills intended to respectfully collaborate with the patient. The spirit of motivational interviewing focuses on collaboration, evocation, autonomy, and compassion.

MI was originally developed by Drs. William Miller and Stephen Rollnick to address substance use disorder. Dr. William Villaume and I brought it to healthcare decades ago and introduced a sense-making approach to MI that was specifically developed for healthcare professionals working in time-limited environments. The acronyms, developed by Dr. Miller, were created with clinical psychologists in mind.   We found that they confused healthcare professionals.   With our approach, we have eliminated all of the original acronyms in favor of skills used to elicit and explore how patients are making sense of a behavior (taking a medicine, etc.) or behaviors needed to manage an illness (how important is it to the patient to manage their diabetes, etc.?).  We are teaching healthcare professionals how to identify how patients are making sense of their illness and its treatment and then how to apply specific skills to address the patient's sense-making so that they are more likely to engage and manage their illnesses.

The overarching principle of MI is that patients are more likely to engage in a behavior when the change comes from them. After exploring the patient's motivation for healthy behavior (taking medication, getting more exercise, quitting smoking), new information or insight is offered, and patients are invited to reconsider their behaviors.

Last year, we published the second edition of our book, Motivational Interviewing for Health Care Professionals:  A Sensible Approach which is available on  

We are very excited to announce that in collaboration with CMSA, we are offering our 8-hour accredited learning program to nurses, case managers, and social workers.  You can learn at your own pace so that you can truly practice patient-centered care.  Go to to learn more!

Bio: Bruce is President of Berger Consulting, LLC and Emeritus Professor at Auburn University. He has developed comMIt (Comprehensive Motivational Interviewing Training for health care providers) and AU MITI (Auburn University Motivational Interviewing Training Institute) and AU MITI (Auburn University Motivational Training Institute. He has taught motivational interviewing in health care and methods for improving treatment adherence for over 30 years. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Bruce received his BS in Pharmacy from The Ohio State University. After practicing pharmacy for two years he returned to Ohio State and received his Masters and Ph.D. in social and behavioral pharmacy. He taught at Ohio State before moving to West Virginia University in January 1980. After two years at WVU, Bruce moved to Auburn University and taught there until his retirement from the university in September 2009. His research interests include health behavior change and improving treatment adherence. He has written three books, and written or presented over 900 papers (88 peer-reviewed) or seminars (94 peer-reviewed) on these topics. He has attracted over $3.5 million in funding to support his research. He has been a consultant and trainer for the US Air Force, VA, US Army, Pfizer, Inc., Procter & Gamble, Abbvie, Novartis, Astra-Zeneca, Sanofi-Aventis, GSK, and over 50 health plans, including Humana, Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts Health, ConnectiCare, Medical Mutual of Ohio and numerous BlueCross BlueShield plans. He is the recipient of the Johnson & Johnson Award, the Lyman Award and the first American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy's Award of Excellence for his research. He is the 2001 recipient of the Jack L. Beal Postbaccalaureate Alumni Award from the Ohio State University. In March of 2004, Bruce was awarded a fellowship by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Academy of Pharmaceutical Research and Science for a lifetime of quality research. Bruce is the 2007 and 2009 winner of the APhA Wierderholt Prize for the best research publication in the social, behavioral, and administrative sciences in pharmacy in the Journal of the APhA. The first study focused on the impact of motivational interviewing. Bruce is the 2009 recipient of the American Association of Colleges of Phamacy’s Robert Chalmers Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award, one of the Association’s three highest honors. Bruce has also been nominated for the 2012 prestigious Pinnacle Award of the American Pharmacists Association for a lifetime of innovative leadership in medication adherence. Bruce is the author of the book, Motivational Interviewing for Health Care Professionals: A Sensible Approach, APhA, Washington, DC, August, 2020, 2nd edition, and an 8-hour accredited Motivational Interviewing E-Learning Program for Health Care Professionals (2015), along with William A. Villaume.