Motivational enhancement therapy or MET is a counseling and intervention approach tailored specifically to bring about motivating change from within an individual. This method is usually used together with other kinds of counseling like the 12-step method for people suffering from substance addiction. MET works by helping people with addiction learn how to alter their behaviors and thoughts. The approach starts with an assessment and it is made up of four treatment sessions that are each targeted with each session customized to fit the individual’s needs. The earlier sessions usually concentrate on analyzing the information that was in the initial assessment and establishing future goals for the individual. The later sessions offer the patient some positive reinforcement and perspective to help them maintain sobriety.

Addiction Treatment

Once someone checks themselves into a drug rehabilitation center, they undergo an evaluation to ascertain what they need in terms of treatment. The physician will monitor the patient’s bodily changes and vital signs during the withdrawal phase of the rehabilitation from the drug. The MET therapists will then work together with the patients to help them change their behaviors and thoughts in relation to drug use. Motivational enhancement therapy can also help to treat any co-occurring mental health problems. Mental health disorders are also common in people also suffering from addiction and, as such, they are prone to dual diagnoses in which both disorders may be influenced by an imbalance of one’s brain chemistry. This method of treatment can help in the treatment of both co-occurring mental disorders and addiction at the same time to keep the patient from relapsing.

MET treatment can help in treating some co-occurring disorders such as:

  • Eating disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder

Therapies and Techniques Used in MET

MET consists of five essential elements through which the therapists and patients will work. These strategies have been found to promote feelings of motivational change within the individuals suffering from substance addiction.

  1. Supporting the recovering addicts’ self-competence- they should believe in their ability to meet the goals that have been established. MET educates the patients that the power to overcome the addiction is within them. It also helps the patients know that they are capable of striving towards any goals they have set for their lives. The therapists usually encourage positive behaviors and thoughts that help to strengthen this self-competence.
  2. Acceptance of resistance as part of the recovery process: MET treatment helps people with addictions work to get through their resistance to the treatment. The therapists usually engage the recovering addicts on a more personal level to help them realize how their actions and behaviors are affecting their relationships and goals.
  3. Avoidance of arguments- Therapists usually will not argue with patients about the extent of their substance abuse. Instead, they will encourage patients to have a positive outlook and response to the treatment.
  4. Acknowledging the difference between reality and thoughts: Patients usually have some reservations about the treatment and they will try to resist it. As such, they should come to terms with where they actually are and where they think they are plus the fact that there is a gap between these two stages. It can be eye-opening when patients finally recognize this gap as it can help them gain the self-motivation to make a change.
  5. Development and Expression of Empathy: Typically, patients are encouraged to learn about feelings of empathy and to develop these feelings so they can know how their actions and behaviors have an effect on others. Learning how to develop empathy can also play a role in motivating the patient to change for the better. Additionally, empathy aids in the establishment of a healthy and trusting relationship between the therapist and the patient.

The MET method provides the substance abuser with much more than what the conventional treatments such as the 12-step program have to offer. The approach is aimed at eliciting change that is both internally motivated and rapid as opposed to guiding the patient all through the recovery journey stepwise.

MET is founded on the principle of motivational interviewing by bringing about self-motivational statements during the early discussion sessions. Usually, this is done to develop a plan to execute change. This normally depends on the patient’s verbal expressions and observable commitment of some kind of progression toward healing the overall problem. MET is a therapeutic approach that engages patients to set up a plan moving forward based on their own centered motivations as opposed to societal motivations.

Another core element of motivational enhancement therapy is the development of interpersonal and problem-solving skills which are usually introduced early into the treatment. This is done in order to help patients get past their denial that they do not have a problem with substance abuse. The therapist is, in a sense, helping to guide the patients in seeing that there is an issue to begin with- all based on the individuals finding out what are their current motivations for living life. Once the patients want to learn, only then can enlightenment occur and the treatment is built around this insight. After the patient and the therapist counter the initial resistance to the treatment by looking back on the patient’s personal statements about wanting positive results, then the learning can effectively take off. The therapist can introduce behavioral techniques seamlessly to support the patients’ capacity to take care of themselves when they face temptation from bad, old, or chemical habitual patterns.

Therapists who use this method more frequently will encourage some family members and other loved ones to attend the sessions in support of the patient’s behavioral and thought process changes while also learning some techniques in the process.

Use of MET with other Treatment Interventions

Motivational enhancement therapy is frequently utilized as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program along with other behavioral therapies which include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT and 12-step programs. These same therapies make use of certain techniques as a means of guiding the patients through their behavioral change. CBT, for example, primarily focuses on teaching the patient alternative coping mechanisms for stress while 12-step programs, on the other hand, outline certain steps that can help the addicts get sober and maintain this sobriety.