This study examined whether therapist behaviors consistent with motivational interviewing (MI) were associated with within-session working alliance and client engagement. Forty-six audiotaped counseling sessions were drawn from a group-randomized comparison-controlled smoking cessation trial for public housing residents. Separate raters coded therapist behaviors and client behaviors. Therapist behaviors were coded using the Motivational Interviewing Skill Code. Results indicated that an MI-consistent style (average of the global ratings of collaboration, egalitarianism, and empathy) was positively associated with alliance and engagement, whereas confrontation was negatively related to alliance. Small to moderate effect sizes were found for affirming, asking open-ended questions, confronting, reflecting, and summarizing. Significant covariates include treatment condition, session sequence, and session date. Findings empirically support Miller and Rollnick's [Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2002). Motivational interviewing: Preparing people for change (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press] emphasis on the importance of MI spirit for enhancing alliance and engagement and their findings that any tears/ruptures in the alliance through the use of confrontation could significantly relate to poor outcomes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded, in part, by grant R01 CA85930 from the National Institutes of Health. This work is based on a study submitted by the first author in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a doctoral degree at the University of Kansas. The authors would like to thank Jennifer Ivie for her assistance in conducting the statistical analyses.
- Motivational interviewing
- Therapist behaviors
- Working alliance