Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) helps people therapeutically overcome the challenges of change to remove barriers that keep them locked in self-destructive behavior.
One of the most challenging parts of recovery from addiction is adjusting the way the brain and body respond to the environment and other people. Triggers are a big challenge, but many challenges come from the personal perception of the world in recovery. The lens through which people see themselves and others shifts in recovery. Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) helps people therapeutically overcome the challenges of change to remove barriers that keep them locked in self-destructive behavior. Moving towards a positive approach is key. Learn more about some principles that are built into the framework of MET to enhance a person’s recovery.
Development of MET
As a therapeutic tool, MET was developed by two clinical psychologists, Stephen Rollnick and William R. Miller. This tool is used in conjunction with other therapeutic modalities as a motivational style of counseling. People who are motivated to change are more likely to withstand the challenges of recovery than using something where negative reinforcement occurs. Understanding MET means knowing how some of the basic principles are developed around the idea that motivating people with addiction to have a more lasting impact than almost anything else.
1. Applied Empathy
The concept of applied empathy revolves around the idea there is more to every person than any destructive behavior they have done. Throughout their time with a therapist, MET provides space to create trust through empathy. This means practicing some basic principles of trust-building and empathy:
- Active listening
- Comprehension and understanding
- Asking the person to elaborate on feelings and thoughts
To empathize with someone is to provide space for them to honor their thoughts and feelings. This is done in the safety of a therapist to the patient relationship, or in the case of recovery, an individual recovering from addiction can work with a therapist in building empathy between them. They may also practice this in a group setting where they learn how to listen well to others sharing their stories and feelings to build trust and rapport. This helps connect them together in the community and support healing.
2. No Arguing Allowed
Certified therapists provide a judgment-free zone safe for all people who work with them in recovery. The goal is to avoid judging or attacking a person, regardless of their attitude. Positive responses to negative words or actions are going to be more impactful at the moment to solve a problem. Not only do therapists model this by trade, but they also help people in recovery work to model this in their lives so they feel more at peace in recovery in order to feel healthier in conversation with difficult people in the real world.
3. Encouragement to Transform
Learning to manage oneself in recovery takes time. As a person with addiction, their whole life was taken over by addiction and other people were taking ownership of their lives while they were struggling. An important aspect of personal transformation is belief that the power to shift their lives is within their control if they so desire. Counselors can help people understand they have the skills to achieve their goals but they have to be willing to see the personal power lies within their control, not in others’ hands. This is different from harnessing that control within the context of a Higher Power, but MET teaches them to find hope and healing in knowing they can shift their response in a situation if they choose.
Why it Works
Motivational Enhance Therapy takes just a few weeks to complete with qualified therapists. People are encouraged to bring their best selves to therapy and work hard. The effectiveness of MET is only as good as a person’s desire for positive change. Everyone faces challenges in their recovery. This comes from work, school, family, and other places, not to mention in the context of recovery from addiction. Relationships and personal health are often damaged to the point people are not sure how to move forward. People who are in therapy for addiction are there because they most likely made a choice to attend, even if the voice is small.
To break the cycle of abuse of drugs and alcohol takes learning about how to get motivated, tools to motivate themselves, and a deeper understanding of how self-motivation works. Self-motivation alone is not enough, but in the context of recovery, it can be a powerful tool to support people on the journey forward. Healing is a multi-faceted approach to learning how to integrate the tools they learn in rehab, then in the real-world context. Outside the walls of rehab, life awaits. When the tools become integrated into how they live their lives each day, that is when change becomes reality. Working hard and pushing towards those goals of healing broken relationships is a great start to a lifetime of recovery.