Motivational Interviewing in Groups

Christopher C. Wagner, Karen S. Ingersoll, and Contributors

Hardcovere-bookprint + e-book
November 15, 2012
ISBN 9781462507924
Price: $58.00
416 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
November 28, 2012
ePub and PDF ?
Price: $58.00
416 Pages
print + e-book
Hardcover + e-Book (ePub and PDF) ?
Price: $116.00 $63.80
416 Pages

A unique clinical resource, this book shows how to infuse the methods and spirit of motivational interviewing (MI) into group-based interventions. The authors demonstrate how the four processes of MI with individuals translate into group contexts. They explain both the challenges and the unique benefits of MI groups, guiding practitioners to build the skills they need to lead psychoeducational, psychotherapeutic, and support groups successfully. A wealth of clinical examples are featured. Chapters by contributing authors present innovative group applications targeting specific problems: substance use disorders, dual diagnosis, chronic health conditions, weight management, adolescent risk behaviors, intimate partner violence, and sexual offending.

This title is part of the Applications of Motivational Interviewing Series, edited by Stephen Rollnick, William R. Miller, and Theresa B. Moyers.

Motivational Interviewing in Groups is a very worthy effort to disseminate information about a clinical technique that can be extremely helpful in working with resistant clients. The authors and their colleagues are to be commended for their dedication in working with people who are often underserved, overlooked, or even shunned by the provider community. They have obviously done a tremendous amount of work in developing and practicing their techniques, and they have accomplished a great deal in demonstrating how MI can be taken out of the consulting room and into the group room.”

Journal of the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society

“The outcomes for MI in groups show enhanced client accountability and group engagement. This book offers an exceedingly practical, accessible, and helpful roadmap to its use….As an instructive guide, this text not only affirms this method of practice in groups, but also offers a plethora of very helpful 'how-tos' with an array of client populations in a multitude of settings. Some of the most challenging clients who populate some of most complex groups are represented in this book. This amplifies this book’s relevance and utility….Prior to reading this book, my knowledge about MI was limited. After reading this book, I am interested in seeking training and integrating more of this into BSW and MSW curricula. Today's field is demanding it, and this book is a response to the yearning for greater knowledge and skills and the practical integration of different perspectives. I think this book belongs on the syllabi of clinical practice courses, group work courses, in social work and psychology programs. It is scholarly, accessible, and highly engaging. I have referred to it several times since first picking it up. I recommend this book to practitioners, teachers, field educators, and researchers. Field educators will find examples of interviewing questions that may provide ballast and comfort for anxious social work students who are looking for the words to say to their clients. This book comes at a much-needed time in the field, and I hope others will find it as useful as I do.”

Social Work with Groups

“Anyone who wants to develop an MI group or teach others to do so should consult Motivational Interviewing in Groups or adopt it as a textbook for his or her graduate class….Promises to be an important—perhaps even seminal—book that may usher group MI into its eventual heyday of research and practice.”


“Wagner and Ingersoll do a masterful job of showing how to integrate the spirit, strategies, and concepts of MI into group work in a consistent and credible manner. They describe in detail how to deal with the needs and perspectives of multiple group members while promoting the process of change for both individuals and the group. The book is filled with practical suggestions, scientific studies, and the rich experiences of pioneering practitioners who are integrating MI into different types of groups. The breadth and depth of the coverage is impressive, and the practical examples of interactions very helpful. This book should be required reading for anyone considering doing MI in groups.”

—Carlo C. DiClemente, PhD, ABPP, Department of Psychology (Emeritus), University of Maryland, Baltimore County

“Wagner and Ingersoll succeed in answering a question that practitioners of all stripes have been asking for 20 years: 'How do we do MI in groups?' Bringing to bear their talents as researchers, practitioners, and trainers, the authors have woven a tapestry of art and science. This is a soup-to-nuts guide on how to start and run different types of MI groups, including a trove of advice from the contributing authors about applications for specific populations. A welcome addition to the MI literature.”

—David B. Rosengren, PhD, Prevention Research Institute, Lexington, Kentucky; member, Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers

“This important book breaks new ground by comprehensively extending MI to group psychotherapy. It is particularly strong in its detailed suggestions about how to conduct MI groups, along with its interesting and informative case studies. Experienced and novice group therapists and MI practitioners can learn a great deal from this book.”

—Hal Arkowitz, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona; member, Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers

“Wagner and Ingersoll are to be commended for providing this engaging, relevant, and comprehensive book. Including chapters by other well-recognized experts, the authors put forth evidence-based therapeutic recommendations and identify important considerations for MI group practice. The book offers specific guidelines for developing groups for a variety of target populations. As a trainer of group therapy, I was particularly impressed with the depth of group practice facilitation skills communicated; this is rare to find.”

—Rebecca R. MacNair-Semands, PhD, Senior Associate Director, Counseling Center, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

“MI is about the therapist's attempts to mirror the client's own goals and desires, so that self-initiated change can begin. This book introduces a new kind of social mirroring for MI: the group setting. Through an insightful sequence of chapters, the book shows how peer interactions can assist in the change process. There are potential pitfalls—for example, group members might argue with rather than roll with each other's sticking points—but, fortunately, the book provides much practical information about how to focus and shape the group discourse for maximum utility. A rich blend of psychological insights is the result.”

—Kennon M. Sheldon, PhD, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri

Table of Contents

I. Foundations of Motivational Interviewing Groups

1. Introduction

2. Therapeutic Groups

3. Overview of Motivational Interviewing

4. Blending Motivational Interviewing and Group Practice

5. The Evidence Base for Motivational Interviewing Groups

II. Motivational Interviewing Groups in Practice

6. Designing Motivational Interviewing Groups

7. Implementing Motivational Interviewing Groups

8. Shaping Group Conversations

9. Phase I: Engaging the Group

10. Phase II: Exploring Perspectives

11. Phase III: Broadening Perspectives

12. Phase IV: Moving into Action

III. Applications of Motivational Interviewing Groups

13. Motivational Interviewing Groups for Mandated Substance Abuse Clients, Sandra S. Downey and Wendy R. Johnson

14. Motivational Interviewing-Transtheoretical Model Groups for Addictions, Mary Marden Velasquez, Nanette S. Stephens, and Kelli L. Drenner

15. Motivational Interviewing Empowerment Groups for Women with Addictions, Frances Jasiura, Winnie Hunt, and Cristine Urquhart

16. Motivational Interviewing Groups for Dually Diagnosed Patients, Steve Martino and Elizabeth J. Santa Ana

17. Motivational Interviewing Groups for People with Chronic Health Conditions, Claire Lane, Susan Butterworth, and Linda Speck

18. Motivational Interviewing Groups for Weight Management, Erin C. Dunn, Jacki Hecht, and Jonathan Krejci

19. Motivational Interviewing Groups for Men with a History of Intimate Partner Violence, Ann Carden and Mark Farrall

20. Motivational Interviewing Groups for Men with a History of Aggressive Sexual Behaviors, David S. Prescott and Marilyn Ross

21. Motivational Interviewing Groups for Adolescents and Emerging Adults, Sarah W. Feldstein Ewing, Scott T. Walters, and John S. Baer

About the Authors

Christopher C. Wagner, PhD, is Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Counseling, Psychology, and Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University. A clinical psychologist, he has led psychotherapeutic, psychoeducational, and support groups targeting addictive behaviors, sexual behaviors and identity, HIV disease coping, schizophrenia, and organ transplant, as well as general adult mental health and development. Dr. Wagner is a past president of the Society for Interpersonal Theory and Research and is a member and former steering committee member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT). His research interests include interpersonal processes in MI and other therapies, and comparing MI with other therapeutic approaches.

Karen S. Ingersoll, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. A clinical psychologist, she has conducted psychotherapeutic, psychoeducational, and support groups targeting intimate partner violence, smoking cessation, relapse prevention for addictive behaviors, HIV treatment adherence, and women's health. Dr. Ingersoll is a corecipient of the Charles C. Shepard Science Award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for a study that reduced the risk of alcohol-exposed pregnancies using an MI intervention. She is a MINT member whose research tests MI as a foundational approach to improve health for people with health and addiction concerns.


John S. Baer, PhD, is a Research Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is also Associate Director for Training and Education at the Center of Excellence for Substance Abuse Treatment and Education at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System. He is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT).

Susan Butterworth, PhD, MS, is Associate Professor at Oregon Health and Science University and is a member of MINT.

Ann Carden, PhD, is a private-practice consultant and trainer in Bowerston, Ohio, and is a member of MINT.

Sandra S. Downey, MS, LPC, is an outpatient therapist at the Harrisonburg–Rockingham Community Services Board in Virginia, and is a member of MINT.

Kelli L. Drenner, PhD, is a research scientist with the Institute for Community Health Promotion at Brown University. She is also a motivational interviewer trainer.

Erin C. Dunn, PhD, is a registered psychologist in British Columbia, Canada, and the coordinator of an intensive inpatient eating disorders treatment program at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. She is a member of MINT.

Mark Farrall, PhD, is Director of Ignition, an independent agency providing specialized training and consultancy in the areas of domestic violence and abuse and of MI, and is a member of MINT.

Sarah W. Feldstein Ewing, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, Assistant Professor of Translational Neuroscience at the Mind Research Network, and Assistant Professor in the University Honors Program at the University of New Mexico. She is a member of MINT.

Jacki Hecht, RN, MSN, Senior Research Associate at Butler Hospital, has a research affiliation in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and is a member of MINT.

Winnie Hunt MEd, is a Trager practitioner and somatic movement educator who specializes in embodied transformational change.

Frances Jasiura, BPHE (Hons), BSW, cofounder of Change Talk Associates, offers training and coaching across Canada in evidence-based communication practices, and is a member of MINT.

Wendy R. Johnson, PhD, is a clinical psychologist with the Portland VA Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, and is a member of MINT.

Jonathan Krejci, PhD, is Director of Clinical Programs, Training and Research at Princeton House Behavioral Health in Princeton, New Jersey, and is a member of MINT.

Claire Lane, PhD, is a trainee clinical psychologist at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, and is a member of MINT.

Steve Martino, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and Chief of the Psychology Service at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. He is a member of MINT.

David S. Prescott, MSW, LICSW, is Director of Professional Development and Quality Improvement for the Becket Family of Services and is a member of MINT.

Marilyn Ross, PhD, LCSW, LSOTP, is a motivational interviewing trainer and clinician in private practice, specializing in working with people who have been sexually abused, and is a member of MINT.

Elizabeth J. Santa Ana, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the Clinical Neuroscience Division, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, at the Medical University of South Carolina, and is a member of MINT.

Linda Speck, DClinPsy, is a consultant clinical health psychologist and head of health psychology services at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, United Kingdom, and is a member of MINT.

Nanette S. Stephens, PhD, a clinical psychologist, is a research scientist and Director of Training at the Health Behavior Research and Training Institute, School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin, and is a member of MINT.

Cristine Urquhart, MSW, RSW, cofounder of Change Talk Associates, offers training and coaching across Canada in evidence-based communication practices, and is a member of MINT.

Mary Marden Velasquez, PhD, is Professor, Associate Dean for Research, Director of the Center for Social Work Research, and Director of the Health Behavior Research and Training Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, and is a member of MINT.

Scott T. Walters, PhD, is Professor of Behavioral and Community Health at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, and is a member of MINT.


Mental health professionals who work with groups, including clinical psychologists, social workers, substance abuse counselors, and psychiatrists.

Course Use

May serve as a text in graduate-level courses on group therapy.