Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

The Effectiveness of Motivational Interviewing with Offenders: An Outcome Evaluation

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

The Effectiveness of Motivational Interviewing with Offenders: An Outcome Evaluation

Article excerpt

Systematic interest in motivation to change emerged from the addictions field due to low rates of treatment compliance. This was commonly conceptualised as a motivational problem (Hettema, Steele, & Miller, 2005) and viewed as a stable personality trait (Miller, 1985). In the late 1970s this paradigm shifted following research that demonstrated clients' intrapsychic characteristics played a minor role compared to therapist variables in predicting client motivation and subsequent treatment outcome (Miller, 1985). These studies redirected interest in the therapist's ability to foster client motivation to change. Interest was stimulated in other fields, including correctional rehabilitation, where offenders were viewed as lacking the requisite motivation to change their harmful behaviour.

Within the correctional rehabilitation field, and parallel to this burgeoning interest in motivation, a number of studies were accumulating that supported the effectiveness of rehabilitation to reduce recidivism (Andrews, 1995; Dowden & Andrews, 1999; 2000; MacKenzie, 2006). From these studies, three principles for effective correctional rehabilitation emerged. The first of these principles, risk, posits that offenders who are more likely to re-offend benefit from intensive highly resourced interventions, while those who are less likely to re-offend benefit from less intensive interventions. The second principle states that effective correctional programmes focus on offenders' needs. These needs are a component of an offender's risk of recidivism; they are malleable and can be either rehabilitative (predictive of offending) or not rehabilitative. The final principle, responsivity, states that correctional intervention needs to be delivered in a style and mode that is commensurate with the offender's ability and method of learning (Andrews & Bonta, 2010). Whilst the responsivity principle incorporates a number of constructs, motivation is one of its key precepts (Day & Howells, 2007). Within the growing correctional rehabilitation literature, motivation was identified as an important factor in offender engagement and, in turn, improved treatment outcome (Ginsburg, Mann, Rotgers, & Weekes, 2002; Harper & Hardy, 2000; Levesque, 1998; McMurran, 2002; McMurran, Tyler, Hogue, Cooper, Dunseath, & McDaid, 1998; Murphy & Baxter, 1997). This has paralleled a growing realisation of the ubiquity of low motivation to change among prison populations (Polaschek, Anstiss, & Wilson, 2010). As such, the re-conceptualisation of motivation as an interpersonal process (Miller, 1985) and the correctional principle of responsivity (Andrews & Bonta, 2010) has fuelled interest in motivational interventions, particularly motivational interviewing, as an intervention method for offenders (McMurran, 2009).

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing was explicated in the late 1970s and early 1980s and is defined as a "collaborative, person-centered form of guiding to elicit and strengthen motivation for change" (Miller & Rollnick, 2009, p. 137). Motivational interviewing aimed to increase motivation to change and effect behaviour change, such as a reduction in drop-out rates and the amelioration of presenting problems.

Miller (1 983) proposed that motivational interviewing stemmed from experimental social psychology and other psychological theories, such as causal attributions (Weiner, 1986), cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957), and self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1977). Drawing from these theories, and clinical experience, Miller and Rollnick (2002) developed a framework whereby effective motivational interviewing is constituted by its spirit, principles and skills. The spirit of motivational interviewing is defined by the concepts of collaboration, evocation and autonomy. Collaboration is premised on the clinician and client working together in a partner-like relationship. Evocation emphasises the clinician's role of eliciting the client's own expertise and solutions. …

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