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Motivational Enhancement Therapy

By focusing on internally motivated change, Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) helps people overcome their addictions through four targeted therapy sessions.

Understanding Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

Motivational Enhancement TherapyMotivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) is an intervention and counseling approach specifically designed to evoke internally motivated change. MET is often combined with other forms of counseling for addicted people, such as the 12-Step treatment method.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) works by helping addicted people learn how to change their own thoughts and behaviors.

After an initial assessment, MET is comprised of four targeted treatment sessions. Each session is personalized to the need of the individual. Early sessions focus on evaluating information from the initial assessment and setting goals for the future. Later sessions provide the patient with perspective and positive reinforcement for staying sober.

MET and Addiction Treatment

When someone checks into a drug rehab center, they are evaluated to determine their treatment needs. Physicians typically monitor a patient’s vital signs and the body’s changes during withdrawal from the drug. MET therapists then work with patients to help change their thoughts and behaviors related to drug use.

MET also helps treats co-occurring mental disorders. Co-occurring mental health issues are common in addicted people because both disorders can be affected by imbalanced brain chemistry. MET can help treat addiction and a co-occurring disorder at the same time to prevent future relapse.

Some co-occurring conditions MET treats include:

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MET Therapies and Techniques

There are five critical elements of MET that patients and therapists will work through. These are strategies that have been found to encourage feelings of motivational change in those suffering from drug addiction.

  • Developing and expressing empathy

    Patients are encouraged to learn and develop empathy to learn how their actions affect others. This can be used as a motivational factor for change. Empathy also helps to establish a trusting relationship between a patient and therapist.

  • Acknowledging the disparity between thoughts and reality

    Patients often have some resistance to treatment, and must come to terms with the fact that there is a gap between where they think they are and where they actually are. Recognizing this gap can be eye-opening, and can help to elicit feelings of self-motivation to change.

  • Avoiding arguments

    Therapists won’t argue with their patients about the degree of their drug or alcohol abuse. Patients are encouraged to have a positive response and outlook on MET.

  • Accepting resistance as part of the process

    MET helps addicted people work through their resistance to addiction treatment. Therapists engage recovering addicts on a personal level, helping them realize how their behaviors are impacting their goals and relationships.

  • Supporting a recovering addict’s self-efficacy

    Recovering addicts must believe in their ability to achieve their goals. MET teaches patients they have the power to overcome addiction and to strive towards their life goals. Therapists encourage positive thoughts and behaviors that reinforce the concept of self-efficacy.

MET and Other Treatments

MET is often used as part of a complete addiction treatment program with several other behavioral therapies, including 12-step programs and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). These therapies uses specific techniques to guide patients through behavioral change. For example, CBT focuses primarily on teaching patients coping strategies for stress, while 12-step programs outline specific steps to help addicts get and stay sober.

Get Help For a Drug or Alcohol Addiction

If you or someone you love is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, we can help. Many inpatient and outpatient drug rehabs understand the need for mental health counseling during addiction treatment. Finding the motivation to get — and stay — sober can be a critical piece to long-term recovery.

Sources & Author Last Edited: January 22, 2016

  1. The National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Retrieved on July 28, 2015, from: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-2
  2. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1994). Motivational Enhancement Therapy Manual: A Clinical Research Guide for Therapists Treating Individuals with Alcohol Abuse and Dependence. Retrieved on July 28, 2015, from: http://lib.adai.washington.edu/dbtw-wpd/exec/dbtwpub.dll?BU=http%3A//lib.adai.washington.edu/ebpsearch.htm&TN=EBP&QY=Find+AccessNo=16&RF=Full+Display&DF=Full+Display&NP=3&RL=1&DL=0&XC=/dbtw-wpd/exec/dbtwpub.dll&AC=QBE_QUERY&CS=0
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