Motivational Enhancement Therapy

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In terms of addiction and substance use disorders, there are many different types of treatment that promote healing and recovery. While treatment may cover therapies, medicinal support, and a slew of rehabilitation styles, there have been recent studies completed which determine that Motivational Enhancement Therapy is among the most successful of treatment styles in the rehab industry.

While curative treatments for alcohol addiction now seem to be a dime-a-dozen, in that the options are vast and seem to cover many potential character traits and diverse needs of each patient, it is also among current treatment programs to push the idea of dual diagnosis options. That is, that in treating multiple disorders or ailments that a person may be experiencing, the root cause of the addiction may be better tackled, whereas in treating only the addiction, other contributing factors—such as mental illness—may be overlooked and could bring a user back to a point of using in the future.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy is a style of treatment that is often used in conjunction with other programs, helping to acknowledge and rehabilitate many aspects of debilitation with which an addicted person may be struggling.

Psychological Approaches In Treatment

Recent decades have given us many new advancements in approaches to addiction treatment that lean toward psychological problems in the addicted patient. Those who enter rehab are often evaluated by medical professionals in terms of mental status. This evaluation—which also takes place in a variety of other medical settings—allows for an addicted individual to reap the benefits of the many programs that will cater to their varying needs.

As patients advance in recovery, much is gained from the treatment of issues ranging anywhere from emotional distress to schizophrenia. Treating a single disorder, such as addiction OR conversely, depression, often results in limited recovery. Those who undergo “traditional” alcohol addiction treatment may succeed in that they are suffering almost entirely from a single ailment: addiction.

But, with all of the studies being conducted on potential sources of addiction, addictive behaviors, mental illness, etc., we see now that most addicted individuals are at the mercy of any combination of illnesses. Therefore, psychological approaches in treatment are being utilized more frequently and with more success than minimal, “traditional” treatments.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Motivational Enhancement Therapy is a mode of treatment involving internal change. The method revolves around a series of sessions, which quickly aid an addicted individual in finding within themselves the motivation for changing the many parts of themselves that perpetuate addiction.

Those who suffer alcohol addiction often are without the tools needed to get to a place of desiring change in their lives. Being able to see themselves through clear eyes, seeing the world for what it is, and looking forward, is more often than not, seemingly impossible for those who have struggled so long under the pull of addiction.

The basic assumption of MET is that we, as individuals, are solely responsible for promoting and accepting behavioral change for ourselves. Setting aside control factors, intimidation, strenuous and lengthy steps that commit to a one-size-fits-all model, MET is a customized program, that, in the end, is more of a self-help strategy than anything else. Once a patient understands change and wants to make changes for himself, the sessions of MET continue to help the desire for change come to fruition.

The modification of behaviors—or change—is propelled from within during MET, given motivation and rationale to get better. Through the various phases, the addicted individual is provided with thought-evoking strategies that make for a better outlook on life. Wives or significant others can aid in this advancement toward change as they are often present during therapy. Looking to the future is also a focus, which is further solidified with the familial involvement in the first two stages of MET. With continuing maintenance, aftercare and sober-living strategies encourage perpetuation of the program, which, in turn, promotes better behaviors in future.

Though not every patient of MET will readily take to this alternative mode of treatment, involvement in the sessions has shown great promise of encouraging patients to progress toward acceptance of the program, and eventual willingness to change and continue through each phase.

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An MET Therapist’s Principles

During the MET process, therapists use a series of principles to keep themselves on the best path in order to appreciate the struggle of addiction and to guide the patient toward the best and most successful experience with the therapy. These basic principles are:

  • Express empathy: involves listening, being gentle, and coming to understand the patient’s struggle, while supporting the individual’s leaning toward change.
  • Develop discrepancy: a therapist will promote differentiation in the mind of the patient as they come to see the difference between where they are now and where they would like to be.
  • Avoid argumentation: steering away from the negative conversation, which tends to appear as an attack on the individual and the addiction. Argumentation also gives way to resistance, as patients throw up walls when they feel pressure on the outside, rather than from within.
  • Roll with resistance: instead of pushing against a patient who appears to be bowing out of therapy, using the resistance to further roll the MET into a better position can get the patient to a point of desiring change once again.
  • Support self-efficacy: positive thought and reinforcement of successes helps patients to feel hope for and ultimate success.

Phases Of Change

MET as a treatment option sees successes in patients when they undergo therapy through stages, or phases of change. These points in time, which are as brief as one week per stage, bring the patient to a point of completion, seeing them through to the next stage, which furthers self-change.

Building Motivation For Change:

Motivation for change begins in the first phase, as the therapist speaks in a repetitive manner to the patient about the potential problems he is encountering. By having a dialogue that encourages the patient to think about how their drinking may be out of hand, the therapist relies on the patient’s own perception of their life. Each statement is a stepping stone toward a realization within the addicted individual to contemplate where they are in life. Responses by the therapist are primarily affirmations or reiterations of what the patient has said. The reiterations allow for trust and open communication as the therapist continues to fully listen to the patient. The conversation continues, eventually leading to the point of the patient recognizing that they’ve determined that they do have a problem and that they’d like for it to change.

Strengthening Commitment To Change:

With the wheels still turning within the patient’s mind (good timing being imperative), the therapist can roll with the motivation and momentum that the addicted individual has built within themselves, thereby encouraging a commitment to change.

Fresh thoughts allow for the therapist to negotiate with the patient in terms of a plan-of-action for the changes to be made. Conversation shifts into a questioning mode, allowing for the therapist to make the plan flow from the lips of the patient. “What are you thinking you’ll do about this?” is a common question that gets patients thinking of their own plan toward change.

The plan is written down in the form of casual note taking by the therapist. The notes can be handed to the patient in an effort to help them remember what was discussed, really encouraging them to use their own advice as the plan for behavioral change.

Follow-through Strategies:

In an effort to help the MET patient keep their motivation and stick to their plan-of-action, many strategies are employed by the therapist during the third phase of treatment. This final phase circles back to the origination of the motivation that the patient sought as the catalyst for wanting to change themselves. Revisiting that motivation, listening to the patient find their desire once more, and encouraging commitment again, are all part of follow through that can keep MET working continually.

Treatment For Your Loved One

Contact Alcoholtreatment.netWhile not every addicted person will find themselves desiring change, therapy on this level can see someone through to a better point in their lives. Employing MET or seeking out other treatments is crucial in helping your loved one get better.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction to alcohol, please contact for information on programs and help deciding what is best for your individualized recovery. Contact us today.


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