Motivational Enhancement Therapy for Addiction

Motivational Enhancement Therapy for Addiction

When you are struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, it can be difficult to seek help or accept that you need to make positive changes. Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) can help with your ambivalence or resistance to change. It is a short-term counseling approach that aims to motivate and empower you to seek substance abuse treatment.1

What is Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)?

Motivational Enhancement Therapy utilizes motivational strategies to encourage you to quit using drugs or alcohol. The therapist integrates motivational interviewing principles to strengthen your motivation and help you on your road to change. In subsequent sessions, the therapist monitors your progress, reviews strategies, and continues to support your commitment to the change taking place.¹

Deciding to change is a big part of MET. This therapy uses natural discovery to allow you to take charge of your behavior. There are six stages of change, including:2

  • Pre-contemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Determination
  • Action
  • Maintenance
  • Determination

Ideally, you will move from one phase to the next and complete the process, but it is easy to fall back and cycle through the steps again. MET aims to assist you through these changes in a sustainable way.²

Instead of guiding you through a step-by-step process of recovery, the goal of MET is to produce a rapid and internally motivated change. Therapists will employ practical strategies, usually done in two phases, to help your internal motivation take place:²

  • Phase One, Build Motivation for Change: This is done by eliciting self-motivational statements, listening with empathy, and questioning your feelings, ideas, concerns, and plans. The therapist continues to build motivation by presenting personal feedback, sincere affirmations, and handling resistance in a way that encourages self-motivation rather than further conflict. The therapists may encourage motivation for change by reframing your problem in a positive light.
  • Phase Two, Strengthen Commitment to Change: A counselor will help strengthen your commitment to change through several different strategies. They will recognize change readiness, discuss a plan to change, communicate free choice, and examine the consequences of action versus inaction. 
Motivational Enhancement Therapy for Addiction beneficial

The Goal of Motivational Enhancement Therapy

The goal of MET is to:

  • Help the you resolve your ambivalence about engaging in treatment
  • Stop your alcohol or drug use
  • Evoke rapid and eternal change

MET is based on principles of motivational psychology. To achieve these goals, therapists will use these five motivational principles when working with you during a MET session:³

  • Express Empathy: The therapist will create a supportive environment through reflective listening rather than confrontation for you to feel accepted and respected. The goal is to make you feel heard and understood so you are encouraged to elaborate and open up about your struggles.
  • Develop Discrepancy: By directing attention toward the discrepancy between your desired and actual state of being, your therapist hopes to help you recognize the behaviors keeping you from your desired state of being and help motivate you to change those harmful behaviors.
  • Avoid Argumentation: A therapist will not attack you or your behavior and instead will employ gentler methods to raise awareness of problems. The therapist will not push you for change, leaving the decision up to you. They do not want to leave you feeling defensive or resistant. 
  • Roll with Resistance: The therapist will work to diffuse any resistance on your part through agreeing or reflective listening. They will roll with resistance, even if it does seem counterintuitive, because it may help you stay and benefit from other parts of the therapy.  
  • Support Self-Efficacy: You need to believe in your ability to produce the necessary changes to live an addiction-free life. The therapist will help you realize your potential to achieve your desired state of being.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy for Addiction 5 parts

What Types of Addictions Does MET Treat?

The effectiveness of Motivational Enhancement Therapy largely depends on the type of substance you’re addicted to and the goal of the counseling approach. MET has demonstrated positive outcomes for those struggling with an addiction to alcohol and marijuana, but the results have been mixed with other substances like nicotine, cocaine, and heroin. It has also had mixed results for adolescents who use multiple drugs. Generally, MET appears to be more effective in engaging these demographics in treatment than producing an actual reduction in drug use.1

Motivational Enhancement Therapy may be beneficial if you:

  • Are struggling with alcoholism
  • Are addicted to marijuana
  • Are ambivalent about treatment
  • Are resistant to changing your behaviors
  • Don’t think your substance abuse is a problem

What is a Motivational Enhancement Therapy Session Like?

A MET session is meant to be non-confrontational and nonjudgmental and focuses on choice and control. Altogether, there are four MET sessions with an initial assessment beforehand. 

Based on this initial assessment, the first session will focus on structured feedback that will help you understand your behavior in the context of the wider population. During this first session, the therapist will address any concerns and help you develop long and short-term goals. With these plans in mind, the therapist will then help to motivate you. The second session is very similar to the first.³

In the third and fourth sessions, your therapist will reinforce any progress and the motivational processes employed in the first two sessions. In the final session, your therapist will continue to support your need to change and any commitments you made during this time. They also continue to employ the five principles of motivational psychology, especially self-efficacy and your ability to change.

Find a Drug or Alcohol Rehab

Once you complete MET, it’s time to transition into a drug or alcohol addiction treatment program. With so many rehab options out there, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices, but our treatment support specialists can help. Call our free, confidential helpline at 1-800-429-7690. We can help you find the right rehab for you or a loved one.

Frequently Asked Questions About Motivational Enhancement Therapy

H3: What is the Difference Between Motivational Interviewing and Motivational Enhancement Therapy?

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a style of communication that helps empower clients through a natural process of change. It is done through good listening and giving respectful advice and suggestions. MI employs a much broader therapeutic approach. Contrastingly, MET focuses more on the client and includes an emphasis on personalized assessments, feedback, and plans to change their drug use.4

Is Motivational Enhancement Therapy a Type of Psychotherapy?

MET is not a type of psychotherapy– it is simply a person-centered counseling approach meant to motivate positive change in a person struggling with substance use. 

Is Motivational Enhancement Therapy Effective?

MET is effective for some people who struggle with substance or alcohol use disorders but not all. It can increase readiness to change and stop drug use. It is also effective for adolescents due to its non-confrontational and nonjudgmental therapy style. 

Addiction Therapy Resources

1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Motivational Enhancement Therapy (Alcohol, Marijuana, Nicotine).

2. DiClemente, C., Miller, W., Rychtarik, R., Zweben, A. (1999). Motivational Enhancement Therapy Manual. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 

3. Good Therapy. (2018, March). Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET).

4. Guydish, J., Jessup, M., Tajima, B., Turcotte Manser, S. (2012, May). Adoption of Motivational Interviewing and Motivational Enhancement Therapy Following Clinical Trials. National Center for Biotechnology Information.

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