Motivational Interviewing helps rehabilitate offenders

The National Institute of Corrections recently posted an article advocating the use of Motivational Interviewing in the corrections field. NIC describes MI as a technique for open communication between offenders and their supervisors that aims to help offenders overcome their reluctance to change problem behaviors.

Motivational Interviewing is a core principle of GEO Reentry Day Reporting programs as well as its in-custody or Jail Employment Education Program (JEEP). While MI is guided by an agent, such as a probation officer in the field or a case manager within a GEO DRC, toward specific behavior change, it is also client-centered, which means it is considers the offender’s needs, wishes and beliefs about the change process. Agents first help offenders address issues that led to criminal behavior. Then, they try to help offenders figure out for themselves what the right thing to do is through a focused conversation. The ultimate goal is for offenders to find the personal motivation to achieve positive outcomes.

MI was born in the 1980s as an alternative to confrontational counseling styles that polarize clients and agents, which for a long time was common in the addictions treatment field. MI is not treatment itself; rather, it aims to prepare offenders for treatment or complement their treatment program. This evidence-based technique can be integrated into reentry programs to aid the rehabilitation process. By changing an offender’s thinking and problem behaviors, MI has the potential to help effectively rehabilitate offenders and reduce recidivism.

The NIC published a guide for implementing MI in Corrections. It covers the history of MI, how to learn it, supervising and coaching MI, and assessing MI skills.