Motivational Interviewing

The principles of motivational interviewing can be used to increase the likelihood that a patient who does not want to quit tobacco use will decide to quit. Motivational interviewing is a directive, patient-centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping patients to explore and resolve ambivalence.

Motivational Interviewing can be characterized in a few key points:

  • The motivational interviewing counseling style is generally quiet and eliciting.
  • Motivation to change is elicited from within the patient, and not imposed from without.
  • It is the patient's task, not the provider’s, to articulate and resolve ambivalence.

The basic approach to interactions in motivational interviewing is captured by the acronym OARS.


  • Open-ended Questions

  • Affirmations

  • Reflective Listening

  • Summaries