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Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) encourages individuals with drug or alcohol abuse disorders to make positive life changes by developing self-motivation, shifting away from negative behaviors, and embracing a healthier lifestyle.

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Motivational Enhancement Therapy For Addiction

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is a motivational psychology method created to quickly bring about internally motivated change.

This is not a step-by-step approach where the therapist guides the client through the process but rather uses motivational methods to utilize the client’s own ability to change. There is an initial assessment session followed by two to four individual therapy sessions. The idea is to help the client find self-motivating proclamations to aid them in changing their addictive behaviors. This has been shown to be more effective in getting clients to engage in their own struggle for sobriety rather than dealing with the addiction itself.

At Paramount Recovery Centers, we provide a wide range of addiction therapy programs to help people begin and maintain their recovery. One of our most effective addiction treatment methods is motivational enhancement therapy, which has proved to be effective for many people. If you or a loved one may benefit from motivational enhancement therapy, reach out to our team today by completing our online contact form.

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motivational enhancement therapy in Massachusetts

Overview of Motivational Enhancement Therapy For Drug Abuse Treatment

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) plays a significant role in drug addiction treatment. Motivational enhancement therapy is primarily a client-centered approach aimed at encouraging intrinsic motivation in individuals to bring about a change in their addictive behaviors. Its foundation lies in the principles of motivational interviewing (MI) and is generally conducted over a short period, usually around two to four sessions.

The therapy’s primary goals are to help individuals to:

  1. Understand the impact of their substance use disorder.
  2. Encourage the development of personal motivation for change.
  3. Cultivate a plan to implement these changes.

One of the key components of motivational enhancement therapy is the ‘Change Plan’, which includes specific goals the individual wishes to achieve, steps towards achieving these goals, strategies for handling possible setbacks, and the commitment to change.

During motivational enhancement therapy (MET) sessions, the therapist uses various strategies to enhance motivation. The therapist expresses empathy, highlights discrepancies between the client’s behaviors and their values or goals, avoids argumentation, and supports the client’s self-efficacy. This process helps individuals recognize the adverse effects of their drug or alcohol abuse, boosting their confidence to make positive changes and fostering a commitment to a recovery plan.

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) has been found to be effective in treating a range of disorders including addiction to alcohol, nicotine, and illicit drugs. The therapy can either be used as a standalone treatment or integrated with other treatment approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or 12-step programs.

Research has shown that MET can lead to improved treatment attendance and adherence, increased motivation for change, and higher rates of abstinence. The effectiveness of motivational enhancement therapy also extends beyond treatment, with benefits persisting long after therapy concludes.

Motivational enhancement therapy is based on the understanding that motivation for change is malleable and can be influenced in a therapeutic context. The therapy respects patient autonomy and does not coerce individuals into change but rather helps them explore and resolve their ambivalence, empowering them to take an active role in their recovery journey.

Importance of MET in Drug Addiction Treatment

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) has carved a significant niche for itself in the field of addiction treatment. Be it alcohol addiction, drug addiction, or other forms of substance use disorders, MET has emerged as a powerful approach that guides individuals toward healthier choices and behavior change.

At the core principle of MET is the concept of motivational interviewing. This counseling approach encourages an individual’s intrinsic motivation to initiate change. The MET therapists treating individuals employ a non-confrontational style, avoiding direct confrontation, and rely heavily on techniques such as reflective listening and open-ended questions to foster a trusting relationship. This approach amplifies the client’s ability to recognize the discrepancies between their current behaviors and future goals, consequently enhancing their motivation for change.

An integral part of MET is the focus on ‘change talk’, the client’s own arguments for change, and the therapist’s role is to elicit change talk. By doing so, the therapists treating individuals with addiction can effectively steer the conversation toward the recognition of the harmful effects of drug use and the benefits of achieving change.

Notably, the MET approach considers the therapist not as an authoritative figure but as a collaborator. The power to change is recognized as inherent to the client, reflecting the counseling style’s respect for client autonomy. This dynamic fosters a therapeutic relationship where the clients feel heard, understood, and supported in their journey toward recovery.

MET focuses on also offering a promising avenue in treating co-occurring mental health conditions, often associated with substance use disorders. The treatment can be paired with cognitive therapy, among other treatments, providing a comprehensive approach to address the complex intertwining issues of mental health and substance abuse.

The use of MET extends to various populations, including adolescent substance users and HIV-positive youth. The technique helps in building behavioral change/motivation among young people to make better decisions, reducing drinking, and curbing drug abuse.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy Program

The motivational enhancement therapy (MET) program represents a significant breakthrough in the field of drug addiction treatment and alcohol addiction treatment. Central to its philosophy is enhancing motivation, with the goal of preparing people for active engagement in their journey toward recovery.

The program is based on the principles of motivational interviewing interventions, a counseling style that helps individuals identify and act on their desire for change. The program is structured in a way that incorporates these principles, with therapists treating individuals in a respectful and non-confrontational manner, thus creating a trusting therapeutic relationship that is crucial to the program’s success.

In the initial sessions of the MET program, a comprehensive initial assessment is made of the client’s substance use disorders, mental health conditions, past attempts at change, and the impact of these issues on their life and relationships. The client’s spouse or a family member is often involved in these initial sessions, recognizing that addiction is not just an individual issue but one that affects the entire social network of the individual.

In these sessions, the MET therapists utilize reflective listening to understand the client’s perspectives, while also exploring their current behaviors related to drug abuse or alcohol abuse. Open-ended questions are asked to encourage ‘change talk’, essentially the client’s self-motivational statements that indicate readiness for change.

The second session builds upon this groundwork, focusing on enhancing the client’s motivation for behavior change. Here, the MET program highlights the core tenant of motivational interviewing: that the motivation for change comes not from the therapist, but from the individual themselves. The MET therapists assist the clients in identifying future goals, exploring the decisional balance – the pros and cons of change, and subsequently developing a personal ‘Change Plan’.

Later sessions occurring in weeks six and twelve, serve as checkpoints to monitor progress, validate changes being made, and address any potential barriers to further change. MET therapists use these sessions to reinforce the client’s ability to achieve change, maintain changes, and prevent future relapse, while also addressing any issues that might jeopardize treatment adherence.

The motivational enhancement therapy program is not just a stand-alone treatment, but it can also be integrated with other forms of therapy like cognitive therapy. Whether addressing drug use, alcohol abuse or enhancing the commitment to reduce drinking, MET provides a platform for individuals to make healthy choices and reclaim control over their lives. In line with the research-based guide published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the MET program remains committed to adopting evidence-based practices and ensuring the highest quality of care.

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Elements To Induce Change

Using the Acronym FRAMES, the elements to induce change include:

  • FEEDBACK of impairment
  • Personal RESPONSIBILITY for change
  • Clear-cut ADVICE to change
  • A MENU of differing change options
  • EMPATHY of the therapist
  • The client’s SELF-EFFICACY

Stages Of Change

The six stages of change that take place during motivational enhancement therapy are:


In the pre-contemplation stage, the client may not yet acknowledge that there’s a problem with their current behaviors related to substance abuse. They might be resistant to change or unaware of the negative consequences of their substance use. The role of the motivational interviewing therapist in this stage is to engage in open-ended conversations, eliciting change talk and helping the client reflect upon their behavior.


During the contemplation stage, the client starts to recognize that their substance use is problematic. They begin weighing the pros and cons of their behavior, a process known as decisional balance in the MET model. This process involves considering the benefits of sobriety and the costs of continuing their substance use. Here, the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s clinical research guide can provide useful information to help the client understand their situation better.


This stage is characterized by the client’s decision to make a change. With the therapist’s support, the client explores various options for change and creates a plan of action. This plan can include strategies for dealing with triggers, building healthier coping mechanisms, and maintaining motivation.


In the action stage, the client begins to implement their plan, confronting their substance abuse and working towards sobriety. The therapist provides ongoing support, affirming the client’s ability to change, reinforcing their efforts, and addressing any challenges that arise. Brief interventions may be used in this stage to deal with specific issues that impede the client’s progress.


Maintenance involves sustaining the changes made in the action stage over the long term. The client continues to use the strategies developed earlier and works on strengthening their commitment to a sober lifestyle. The therapist supports the client in this stage by encouraging them to build motivation and recognize their accomplishments.


Relapse is considered a part of the process rather than a failure in MET. It involves a return to substance use after a period of abstinence. The therapist helps the client understand that relapse is a common part of the recovery process and can be used as a learning opportunity. In the case of a relapse, the cycle of change begins again, starting with the pre-contemplation stage, and lessons from the relapse are used to inform future attempts at sobriety.

Throughout these stages, the core tenet of MET – to evoke and strengthen the client’s own motivation for and commitment to change – guides the therapist’s approach. The use of the third edition of the Motivational Enhancement Therapy Manual can provide detailed, research-based guidance on navigating these stages.

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Motivational Enhancement Therapy Techniques

MET employs a variety of unique techniques to encourage change in individuals struggling with addiction. One of the primary techniques is motivational interviewing, a counseling approach that forms the basis of the Motivational Enhancement Therapy Manual. This approach respects the individual’s autonomy and recognizes that the power for change comes not from the therapist, but from the individual themselves – a concept that is often framed as ‘not the therapist’.

Express Empathy

Empathy is a crucial component of motivational enhancement therapy (MET). It involves active and reflective listening, a technique wherein the therapist echoes back the client’s thoughts and feelings. This approach fosters a therapeutic relationship, demonstrating respect for the client’s experiences and perspectives. The therapist does not impose their views but instead facilitates a safe, non-judgmental space where the client feels heard and understood. Such respectful communication can build trust, making the client more open to discussing their substance use disorders and considering change.

Develop Discrepancy

In MET, the therapist helps the client identify the disparity between their current behaviors related to drug or alcohol abuse and their future goals or values in a sober state. This technique, known as developing discrepancy, works by making the client aware of the consequences of their current substance use and how it contrasts with their desired life. This heightened awareness can generate discomfort, thus catalyzing motivation for change.

Avoid Argumentation

MET emphasizes the importance of avoiding argumentation. The therapist does not confront the client’s denial or resistance directly, as it could elicit defensiveness and hinder progress. Instead, the therapist accepts the client’s views, even if they are not acknowledging the extent of their substance abuse. By sidestepping confrontations, the therapist prevents defensive reactions, thus maintaining a collaborative dialogue and making the therapeutic relationship more productive.

Roll with Resistance

A key technique in MET, ‘rolling with resistance’, involves acknowledging and exploring the client’s objections or concerns instead of directly challenging them. The therapist refrains from debating with the client, as this could lead to a power struggle. Instead, they use reflective listening to explore the resistant statements and gently encourage the client to consider other perspectives. This technique helps to maintain a productive dialogue and encourages the client to shift their perspectives, facilitating behavior change.

Support Self-Efficacy

MET places great importance on supporting self-efficacy, which is the belief in one’s ability to bring about change. The therapist consistently affirms the client’s strengths, past successes, and potential for recovery. They convey confidence in the client’s ability to change and promote their autonomy in making decisions about their treatment. This focus on self-efficacy encourages the client to take ownership of their recovery process, enhancing their motivation and commitment to sobriety.

Moreover, MET involves several training opportunities for therapists to acquire and refine their skills. For instance, Project MATCH, a large-scale clinical research guide by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, offers extensive resources and recommendations for implementing MET. The third edition of the Motivational Enhancement Therapy Manual, published by Guilford Press, is another valuable resource providing research-based guidance for therapists.

Learn More About Motivational Interviewing At Paramount Recovery Centers Today

At Paramount Recovery Centers, our motivational enhancement therapy program in Massachusetts encourages clients to engage in internally motivated change. With the help of a therapist specifically trained in this method, the guest will discover their own motivations to combat a substance use disorder effectively with lasting results. MET is a unique approach that allows the therapist and guest to be partners in the guest’s well-worn path to sobriety rather than adversaries. It is this adversarial dilemma that prevents many people from achieving their goals both in a program and also when they are on their own.

At Paramount Recovery Centers in Southborough, MA, we are well-versed in this method and treat our guests with the respect they deserve. We can be reached online for you to take the first step on your journey to wellness and recovery.

Medically Reviewed By
Brooke Palladino Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC)
Brooke Palladino

Brooke Palladino is a board certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC). She is a graduate of Plymouth State University with her Bachelors of Science in Nursing and her Masters of Science in Nursing from Rivier University. She has over 9 years of experience with a background in critical care and providing safe individualized care to her patients and their families during difficult times. She has been trained to help treat individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. Brooke is committed to delivering the highest standards of care including close collaboration with her clients and the talented interdisciplinary team at Paramount Recovery Center.

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