Navigating MI Literature: Motivational Interviewing Books for Practitioners

A person holds a stack of 7 books in their hand against a white wall.

Many people who work in any human services space become bibliophiles with long TBR (to-be-read) lists. How is one to choose their next best read?!

 

We’re often asked about the best Motivational Interviewing books for practitioners. Which have we found helpful, and what do we recommend? Here’s the list!

 

1. Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change

Authors: William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick.

 

If you’re looking for a foundational read with a simply stated overview of MI, the fourth edition is excellent. Released in the fall of 2023, Miller and Rollnick set forth an intention to simplify the structures and concepts of MI even further than their previous three editions dating back to 1992. It’s a third shorter than any of the previous editions and is written for non-clinical and clinical practitioners alike. In plain-spoken language, the authors thoroughly explain MI’s intention, philosophy, and techniques. There’s an emphasis on the collaborative nature of the MI practitioner-served person relationship and how it’s used to foster and encourage meaningful change across a range of settings, behavioral topics, and disciplines. The book offers practical strategies and is an excellent resource for professionals in human services, including healthcare, counseling, workforce development, education, social work—anywhere humans are served. If you’re looking for a book to start with, this is a good investment.

 

2. Building Motivational Interviewing Skills: A Practitioner Workbook

Author: David B. Rosengren.

 

One of the nuances of MI, and any structured approach, is to have an implementation or integration mindset. A one and done training does not result in the intended impact being achieved because it’s not showing up in direct service provider behavior. Fidelity is lacking. We always encourage the programs, agencies, and systems we serve to embrace the journey of learning MI. There are various approaches to get on the implementation journey. The simplest is to set up a series of peer learning groups or communities of practice. This workbook by fellow MINT (Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers) member David Rosengren is a super helpful resource toward that end. This practitioner workbook provides hands-on exercises to support your and your team’s continued MI skill development and adherence. The workbook includes a plethora of exercises, case studies, and real-world scenarios. If you and your team are ready to get on the journey to implementing MI, this is an excellent resource.

 

3. Motivational Interviewing in Health Care: Helping Patients Change Behavior

Authors: Stephen Rollnick, William R. Miller, et al.

 

The founders of MI get specific by exploring MI’s application in healthcare settings. This is a wonderful resource for medical professionals of all role types and anyone who engages with patients. It addresses some of the common challenges and stigmas patients face in healthcare as they try to make health-related positive changes. MI in Health Care provides guidance to partner with patients, empower them to be drivers of their wellness, and improve healthcare outcomes. You can watch a brief interview with the author here for an overview of the concepts in this book.

 

4. Motivational Interviewing with Adolescents and Young Adults

Authors: Sylvie Naar and Mariann Suarez.

 

One of our favorites. As those of us who work with teens and adolescents know, working with evolving humans presents some unique challenges. This book offers valuable insights to support you in connecting, engaging, and guiding (vs. direct or follow) youth. The authors explore the developmental and social factors that impact younger folks. It offers insights and guidance to help practitioners consider the emotional needs of younger clients on their journey to positive change, and it gets specific about how to apply MI skills with this population.

 

5. Motivational Interviewing in Social Work Practice

Author: Melinda Hohman.

 

It is helpful to drill down with a book geared toward your area of specialization. Motivational Interviewing in Social Work Practice is written by a social worker and another MINT member with years of experience in direct service and teaching at the college level. It guides social workers through tools to enhance client empowerment and facilitate engagement. The book explores a wide range of contexts with case studies and suggests MI Strategies for individual as well as community-wide services. Melinda was also one of the first MINT members to integrate Cultural Humility into her practice of MI. Gold star for that!

 

6. Motivational Interviewing and CBT: Combining Strategies for Maximum Effectiveness

Authors: Sylvie Naar, Steven Safren, et al.

 

One helpful aspect of MI is its ability to blend with other approaches to support healing and change. MI and CBT explores the synergy between MI and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). One common question that practitioners can face is how to integrate various therapeutic approaches in an effective and practical way. This book provides an excellent framework for blending the MI client-centered method with CBT’s structured problem-solving techniques.

 

7. Motivational Interviewing in Schools: Conversations to Improve Behavior and Learning

Authors: Richard Rutschman, Stephen Rollnick, et al.

 

Here, Rutschman and Rollnick focus on implementing MI as a tool for educators and school professionals. These strategies can help engage students in conversations that improve academic outcomes, promote motivation, and increase self-awareness. It’s an excellent choice for educators who want to enhance growth and positive behavioral outcomes in an educational environment.

 

8. Motivational Interviewing in the Treatment of Psychological Problems

Authors: William R. Miller, Stephen Rollnick, et al.

 

The journey of writing a book to publishing is often a years long process. Many things can shift during that time. In the case of this helpful resource, the title isn’t all that trauma-informed, mainly because it came out just as our awareness of trauma was becoming more acute. So, we would prefer a slightly different title, such as MI in the Treatment of Mental Health and Psychological Challenges. Still, it contains helpful and targeted chapters on specific served person challenges that we often refer to in our class. There is a chapter on MI and addressing suicidality. Another is on how to employ MI with folks who have severe and persistent mental health challenges and non-ordinary reality experiences (aka “delusions”). The book goes on to share a wide range of MI-based strategies to guide practitioners through a variety of served person scenarios while supporting served persons with compassion and empathy.

 

9. Motivational Interviewing with Offenders: Engagement, Rehabilitation, and Reentry

Authors: Jill D Stinson and Michael D Clark.

 

Another one that could use a little title shift—maybe, MI with Returning Citizens or Criminal Justice System Involved. That said, Mike Clark has been promoting Motivational Interviewing in criminal justice for decades and to positive effect. This is a culmination of his experiences with a second edition (hopefully with a more modern title) forthcoming. This book helps guide professionals through ways to create and foster meaningful dialogue with served persons who are in mandated situations. It supports practitioners to empower (surfacing that which is already present within) served persons on their journey through reentry and reintegration.

 

10. Motivational Interviewing in Groups

Authors: Christopher C. Wagner, Karen S. Ingersoll, et al.

 

One of our most often recommended resources. Not only is this an excellent riff on employing MI in dynamic group situations, but it is also a solid resource for group work in general. This guide helps you explore how to apply MI within group settings and how to use the techniques to encourage and support individual participation while building community amongst the group. And it gets specific, including how to employ MI with folks who have positive hallucinations—who aren’t tailored to our common reality as well as folks in mandated situations. It also explores strategies for facilitating group conversations that promote and enhance collective motivation, which can be helpful to community organizers and community-serving organizations.

 

Finding Motivational Interviewing Books and Resources

We offer links to all these books and others on Bookshop.org. We receive no final remuneration, but if you choose to purchase through Bookshop.org, you’ll be supporting a local bookshop. Win-win! You can also visit our resources page for links to video resources and other materials that support much of the work we do at Share Collaborative.

 

No matter where you are on your Motivational Interviewing journey, a little reading will enhance your understanding, give you greater insight into diverse perspectives, and deepen your skills.

 

It’s often helpful to start with the foundational texts here to better understand the MI principles, techniques, and philosophy.

 

After building on those foundational texts, you may want to dive into some of the literature on more specialized applications of these skills (such as healthcare, education, or group work). Many of these works also include resources to help you stay informed on the latest findings on MI’s effectiveness, adaptation, and innovations.

 

At Share Collaborative, we’re always happy to provide you with additional materials, resources, and suggestions to enhance your work. If you’re hoping to implement MI into your practice strategies, please reach out to explore with us.

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