Elements of Motivational Interviewing as Common Factors across Exemplary Marriage and Family Therapy Demonstrations

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Virginia Tech


In both individual and relational psychotherapy contexts, it has been argued that the effectiveness of psychotherapy practice is associated with common factors cutting across the models including client factors, therapist factors, hope/expectancy of the clients, allegiance of the therapists, the quality of therapeutic relationship, and the basic counseling skills rather than model specific factors (Davis and Piercy, 2007a, 2007b; Lambert, 1992; Hubble, Duncan, and Miller, 1999; Sprenkle, Davis, and LeBow, 2009; Sprenkle, Davis, and LeBow, 2009; Wampold, 2001, 2008, 2015). However, the common factors perspective has been criticized for not having a theoretical framework, operationalization of its elements, and research support (Sexton, Ridley, and Kleiner, 2004). Despite gradually increasing interest in the literature, the research exploring the common factors of effective psychotherapy practice is still in its baby steps in the context of relational psychotherapy. In this study, motivational interviewing (MI) is presented as a theoretical framework and a practical research tool for exploring common factors in the context of relational psychotherapy. The research questions of to what extent motivational interviewing elements are implemented in the context of relational psychotherapy and to what extent therapist behaviors are associated with client change behaviors were explored by using task analysis and sequential analysis methodologies. Using the AAMFT Masters Series Tapes of MFT Model developers, including Boszmormenyi-Nagy, Minuchin, Satir, Whitaker, and White, the exemplary demonstrations of relational psychotherapy were rated on the Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity Scale (MITI 4.2.1., Moyers et al., 2014) for therapist behaviors and on the Motivational Interviewing Skills Code-Client Behaviors Scale (MISC; Miller, Moyers, Ernst, and Amrhein, 2003) and the Experiencing Scale (EX; Klein, Mathieu, Kiesler, and Gendlin, 1969) for the client change behaviors. The results are discussed in terms of a common factors perspective.



Common Factors, Motivational Interviewing, Psychotherapy, Process Research