Handbook of Motivational Counseling: Concepts, Approaches, and Assessment

Handbook of Motivational Counseling: Concepts, Approaches, and Assessment

Handbook of Motivational Counseling: Concepts, Approaches, and Assessment

Handbook of Motivational Counseling: Concepts, Approaches, and Assessment


Motivation is a pervasive force that can affect well-being in a variety of life situations, from the more minor through to the ability to overcome addictions and other serious psychological problems. This book presents empirically supported theories (featuring current concerns theory), questionnaires based on these theories (highlighting the Motivational Structure Questionnaire) and varied interventions based on these, with special emphasis on Systematic Motivational Counselling but also including chapters on such approaches as Personality Systems Interaction Theory, expectancy-based approaches, Motivational Interviewing, logotherapy and several others.


Motivation is an important topic for everyone who works in the helping professions, because people in need of help often lack the motivation to achieve the things that they want and need in life. Motivational deficits can prevent people from seizing opportunities that would enable them to lead fulfilling lives. The deficits can interfere with people's work productivity and their satisfaction with life. They can cause people to seek alternative but self-defeating ways to obtain satisfaction, such as through alcohol or other drug abuse. In still other cases, these deficits can result in psychological maladjustment and distress. This book shows how motivational problems develop, how they can be identified, and how they can be corrected.

Our work on motivational counseling started more than twenty years ago at the University of Minnesota, Morris. We both were interested in motivation from a theoretical perspective and in alcohol abuse, and were particularly interested in identifying the variables controlling people's motivation to drink excessively. Thus began our longstanding collaboration. As we embarked on the research, we were struck by the high incidence of relapse into abusive drinking by drinkers who had sought help for their problem drinking and whose problem had temporarily remitted. The return to problematic drinking shortly after treatment appeared to result from an eroding motivation not to drink rather than from any deterioration of the skills to cope with the drinking that had been learned during the treatment. Experiencing an abstinent or moderate-drinking lifestyle that was no more satisfying than the problem drinking one had been, recovering drinkers seemed to reach a point where they decided to resume drinking in an attempt to make their lives more bearable.

We next sought to find new techniques to improve problem drinkers'motivation to recover. We found important clues as to what our focus should be from several sources of evidence of differences between the majority of alcohol abusers who had relapsed after treatment and the minority who had not. Unlike the relapsing drinkers, the non-relapsing ones had found meaningful, satisfying lives to enjoy that did not include excessive drinking. Thus, we reasoned, rather than aiming for new strategies for dealing directly with the drinking, a more promising approach would be to target drinkers' goals and concerns apart from their drinking. Other researchers had similar ideas,ashad Rudy Vuchinichin1982 whenheasked, "Have behavioral theories of alcohol abuse focused too much on alcohol consumption?"

The technique that we developed for addressing alcohol abusers' life concerns was Systematic Motivational Counseling (SMC). SMC is based on a theoretical point of view similar to other approaches that help problem drinkers gain access to healthy sources of reinforcement contingent on their not drinking (e.g., Sisson & Azrin, 1989). However, SMC is different from other techniques in that it aims to address directly the motivational basis for problem drinking. It is firmly grounded in motivational theory, and aims to correct drinkers' maladaptive patterns of goal-striving. Its strategy is to enhance the richness of . . .

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