Motivational Interviewing in Social Work Practice

Melinda Hohman

HardcoverPaperbacke-bookprint + e-book
October 11, 2011
ISBN 9781609189693
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178 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
July 22, 2015
ISBN 9781462523696
Price: $26.00 $19.50
178 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
October 27, 2011
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Price: $26.00 $19.50
178 Pages
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Price: $52.00 $28.60
178 Pages
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Motivational interviewing (MI) offers powerful tools for helping social work clients draw on their strengths to make desired changes in their lives. This reader-friendly book introduces practitioners and students to MI and demonstrates how to integrate this evidence-based method into direct practice. Melinda Hohman and her associates describe innovative applications for diverse clients and practice areas, including substance abuse treatment, mental health, child welfare, community organizing, and others. Extensive sample dialogues illustrate MI skills in action with individuals and groups. The book also presents best practices for MI training, teaching, and agency-wide integration.

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

“Hohman teaches social work practice, substance abuse treatment, and MI at both undergraduate and graduate level....She clearly has a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience to draw upon. Likewise, the 10 contributing authors all have related knowledge and experience….Interspersed throughout the book are dialogue examples that I personally find very useful when contemplating the idea of transferring theory into practice….The reader will be able to learn and reflect upon situations where MI may be appropriately implemented and integrated within practice. It has to be commended for this….A useful addition to the idea of the application of Ml within a broader range of services or settings than one would traditionally think of.”

Alcohol and Alcoholism

“This highly accessible, practical text provides social workers with a wonderful introduction to the principles of MI. Through detailed case narratives and clinical discussions, Hohman and her colleagues illustrate how MI operationalizes essential social work ideas like client self-determination, strengths orientations, and client empowerment. While acknowledging the limitations of MI, Hohman makes a persuasive argument for its value as a client-centered, evidence-based approach to the helping process that is truly collaborative and culturally responsive. This text is an excellent source book for graduate-level advanced clinical practice courses. Its ideas are applicable to social work practice in a wide range of clinical settings, including substance abuse and health care.”

—Meredith Hanson, DSW, Graduate School of Social Service, Fordham University

“This delightful book succeeds in putting MI into the context of social work education and practice. It explores the role of theory in MI, provides examples that are specific to social work, and clarifies how MI fits with social work values and ethics. The book closely examines the principles and skills of MI and provides plenty of practical sample interviews. I will use this book as a text in my master’s-level social work courses. It will be a great resource for students as they begin to practice in a variety of settings.”

—Mary Marden Velasquez, PhD, Director, Health Behavior Research and Training Institute, School of Social Work, The University of Texas at Austin; member, Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT)

“Finally there is a book that summarizes the vast literature on MI that is most relevant to social workers! What separates this from other MI books are the detailed descriptions of social workers' contributions to MI development and research and the discussion of how the model is consistent with social work values. Hohman has produced a remarkable book that is highly readable and chock full of interesting examples drawn from her personal journey learning MI and training others to use it. Social work educators will find this book very useful for a wide variety of practice classes.”

—Douglas C. Smith, PhD, LCSW, School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; member, Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT)

“Providing an accessible, practical description of why and how to integrate motivational interviewing (MI) into social work practice, this text offers an invaluable discussion of one of the most empirically supported intervention approaches in the field today. With the charge to move toward evidence-based practice in social work, beginning and advanced practitioners alike will appreciate the fact that MI has been tested in nearly 300 clinical outcome studies. Hohman and colleagues offer detailed transcripts and clinical vignettes that break down the MI process into discrete, readily learned chunks. Students in foundation and advanced courses on social work practice, addictions treatment, and health and mental health social work will benefit from learning how MI principles and techniques can be applied to address the real-world challenges of common clinical scenarios.”

—Eric L. Garland, PhD, LCSW, College of Social Work and Trinity Institute for the Addictions, Florida State University

“I have been waiting for a book like this one. This much-needed volume will be of tremendous value to social workers who have struggled to engage and facilitate change in a broad range of client populations. It is rich with helpfully presented, annotated sample dialogues illustrating the skillful application of MI in social work contexts.”

—Andrew Hamid, PhD, School of Social Work, Columbia University

Table of Contents

1. Why Social Work and Motivational Interviewing?

2. The Heart of Motivational Interviewing

3. Motivational Interviewing and the Engagement and Assessment Process, with Hilda Loughran & Sally Mathiesen

4. Supporting Self-Efficacy, or What If They Don’t Think They Can Do It?, with Stéphanie Wahab & Katie Slack

5. Expressing Empathy: Communicating Understanding (Even When It’s Hard)

6. Developing Discrepancy: Using Motivational Interviewing in a Group Setting to Increase Ambivalence

7. Rolling with Resistance: Motivational Interviewing with Adolescents, or, "You Can’t Make Me", with Elizabeth Barnett & Audrey M. Shillington

8. Building Collaboration: Motivational Interviewing in Community Organization Work, with Mike Eichler

9. Integrating Motivational Interviewing into Social Work Practice, with Rhoda Emlyn-Jones, Bill James, & Cristine Urquhart

10. Final Thoughts: Lessons Learned from Training and Teaching Motivational Interviewing

About the Author

Melinda Hohman, PhD, MSW, is Professor in the School of Social Work at San Diego State University, where she has taught since 1995. She teaches courses in social work practice, substance abuse treatment, and motivational interviewing, both at the graduate and undergraduate level. Dr. Hohman’s research interests include substance abuse assessment and treatment services and the overlap of substance abuse treatment and child welfare services. She has been a trainer in motivational interviewing since 1999, training community social workers, child welfare workers, probation officers, and addiction counselors across the United States.


Elizabeth Barnett, MSW, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

Michael Eichler, MSW, School of Social Work, San Diego State University, San Diego, California

Rhoda Emlyn-Jones, OBE, Social Services, South Wales, United Kingdom

Bill James, LCSW, County of San Diego, San Diego, California

Hilda Loughran, PhD, College of Human Sciences School of Applied Social Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Sally Mathiesen, PhD, LCSW, School of Social Work, San Diego State University, San Diego, California

Audrey M. Shillington, PhD, MSW, Center for Alcohol and Drug Studies and School of Social Work, San Diego State University, San Diego, California

Katie Slack, MSW, MI Training Today, San Diego, California and Nashville, Tennessee

Cristine Urquhart, MSW, RSW, Change Talk Associates, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Stéphanie Wahab, PhD, MSW, School of Social Work, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon


Social workers in any practice setting or specialty area; graduate students and instructors.

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in social work courses focused on direct practice, in addictions as well as across other practice areas.