Motivational Enhancement Therapy

What Motivational Enhancement Therapy Means

Motivational enhancement therapy is an interesting approach to helping individuals who seem to be either on a destructive path or seem unwilling or unable to get on a constructive one. The motivational enhancement therapy (MET) approach is one that attempts to get the individual undergoing the therapy to move in the right direction by pulling himself up by his own bootstraps, with subtle assistance, rather than aggressively attempting to steer that person in the right direction.

Addicts And Adolescents - Two categories of people who can often benefit from this kind of therapy are addicts and adolescents. The two are not to be equated of course, but do share several traits which MET attempts to address. These are denial, a lack of motivation, resistance, and at times a narcissistic attitude. In confronting these traits, the usual kinds of therapy don't often work, as in an attempt to be persuasive a councilor can sometimes be considered to be threatening or overly aggressive, running into Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion; every force is met by an equal and opposing force. A counseling session can then degenerate into a pushing match, with neither counselor nor client gaining what could be considered an advantage, and where the outcome at best is an unsatisfactory draw.

The MET Approach - Rather than insisting a patient a specific course, or attempting to shame the person into doing it, MET takes a slightly novel approach. We know that people will often accept a new idea if we can somehow get them to believe it is their idea, and that is somewhat how MET works, The counselor attempts to plant a seed, or more than one, that the patient can mull over and hopefully decide to do something with. The goal is to get a person moving far enough along a course of action they believe in, such that at some point they will recognize the need for some help and guidance in achieving the goal that they consider to be their idea, and are therefore willing to accept that help and guidance.

A MET session tends to be brief rather than long and drawn out, and any direct or aggressive persuasion on the part of the counselor is judiciously avoided. A great deal of importance is placed on interpersonal relationships, with the goals and objectives of the therapy often seeming to be an afterthought. Successful MET sessions often result in a relationship between the parties that is more of a partnership than a counselor-client relationship.

Usually the person undergoing therapy does not truly believe his or her actions to be a problem, or is in denial. In any event, an attempt to convince the person to change will initially be met with resistance, if not outright disdain.

The Steps That Are Taken - The approach taken is not one of trying to convince the patient that they do have a problem, but rather to convince the patient to contemplate the issue, and determine for himself or herself whatever he or she may or may not have a problem. If the patient gets as far as believing there may be a something that needs changing it is a big step, no matter how small the contemplated change may be.

The next step is to get the patient to make a commitment to changing, at the same time giving the patient some leeway in that he or she may still consider the need to change or the ability to change somewhat problematic. A timetable to make the change is agreed upon, one with which the patient is comfortable with yet is still realistic.

Success - Once the change has successfully been made, the client is counseled on how to maintain the new way of doing things. There may be many changes which have to be made, and the motivational enhancement therapy process often takes on the characteristic of a spiraling process, but what is happening is that one small success lays the groundwork for improvement and further successes, and the time comes when the client becomes fully motivated to make the changes in behavior he or she now recognizes as being necessary.