Often the hardest aspects of recovery is changing our thought processes and actions, especially while dealing with various life challenges stemming from past trauma, depression, anxiety, and other byproducts of addiction. Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) is a motivational style of counseling that employs principles of Motivational Interviewing, a technique that itself was developed by two clinical psychologists, Stephen Rollnick, and William R. Miller. MET offers itself as an alternative to 12-step programs and is a form of addiction therapy that helps patients in recovery to overcome uncertainty related to a change in their self-destructive drug or alcohol behavior.
It is well known that substance abuse alters the wiring of the brain, affecting neural circuits associated with pleasure, mood, and even one’s sleep-wake cycle. Consequently, it also affects a persons’ way of thinking, their decision-making abilities, how they take in knowledge, their memory, and management of performance. The primary aim of MET is all about motivating someone to face and change their damaging behaviors. As you may well know, that often even though people who have an addiction are aware of the negative impact their habit has on their lives and those around them, they are not willing to change or are not able to change their behavior.
Motivational enhancement therapy is a form of communication that helps the patient to see inconsistencies in their self-destructive behavior and move them from a pre-contemplation state to one of action. MET applies particular focus on areas where he or she is hesitant about introducing potentially beneficial actions in their life, thus overcoming ambivalence.
MET is based on five fundamental tenets:
- Creating an environment of trust by expressing empathy, listening, and understanding their experiences and feelings to help an individual see their destructive behaviors
- Developing discrepancy and elaborate on various incongruities by promoting differentiation in the patient’s mind to clearly show them where they are currently in their state of abusing drugs or alcohol and where they would like to be in a substance-free future.
- During a MET interview, a therapist will do all they can to avoid arguments that may result in the client being distrustful, resistant, and oppositional. Instead, they will use techniques that will ultimately encourage trust and comfort.
- MET counselors are trained to understand resistance to change instead of confronting it head-on, meaning they neutralize opposition by listening and being attentive without judgment or defensiveness. This is an effective way to promote trust and lower the levels of hostility.
- A MET therapist will support a client’s self-efficacy by offering positive thoughts, reinforcement, and feedback to help an individual feel hopeful and boost their self-worth and esteem while at it.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy is customized to the specific needs of the person receiving treatment. Not only has it proven beneficial to those with a substance abuse disorder, but MET has also shown to also be helpful in the management of anxiety, eating disorders and gambling addiction as well as treatment for individuals who may be going through identity issues or trying to establish their autonomy. It is clear to see how this sort of methodology is complementary to other treatment modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy.