In the new, 3rd edition of their book Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change (Guilford, 2012), authors and MI architects, Miller and Rollnick provide a refreshing explanation and discussion about this powerful approach to facilitating change. The book is substantively restructured around the new four-process, step-model of MI – engaging, focusing, evoking, and planning:

In previous blogs, we have addressed skills and techniques related to the initial process of engaging or designing the alliance between client and practitioner as well as those concerning focusing or holding the client’s agenda of maintaining a specific direction along with the concept of readiness, that all so-important threshold between evoking motivation, and the two-fold process of developing a commitment to change and formulating a specific plan. Evoking is at the very heart of MI and it forms one of the cornerstones of the co-active model of coaching, evoking transformation.

One of the ways to think about the process of using MI (or taking up the attitude or underlying spirit and heart of this approach) is that it is a collaborative or coactive process whereby the practitioner seeks to evoke the motivation needed to shift clients’ talk from status quo, the way it has always been or where they might be stuck, to language that is more pro-change in nature. Miller and Rollnick liken evoking to drawing water from the deep well of a client’s resources. Clients already have within them the motivation to make change; the role of a person using the MI process is to pull out or evoke what each client needs to make the change s/he desires. Ideally, we want clients to voice their own arguments for change, to talk themselves into changing, and to be active participants in their own change process.