An Intro to MET: Motivational Enhancement Therapy
Motivational enhancement therapy, or MET, is a seemingly simple yet deeply effective treatment for those in recovery. MET’s unique beauty results from its people-forward methodology that increases the patient’s motivation towards change. It avoids the potentially crippling clinical labels–like “addict” and “alcoholic”–and grows from a place of confidence in the patient. An MET therapist assumes that the patient has all of the tools available to change their destructive behavior. The therapist guides the patient through a process of unlocking their own potential.
The cycle of MET is rather short. The therapist’s initial analytical session is followed by four sessions with the patient. The process encompasses five distinct steps:
Express Empathy: The therapist communicates their respect for and appreciation of the client and his or her struggles. They validate the client by reflecting their point of view with intentional, artful conversational tweaks. They demonstrate their compassion in conversation and body language to let the client know they are being seen and heard.
Develop Discrepancy: In this phase, the therapist discusses the client’s desired state of being. Then, the therapists hones in on the client’s current state of being and his or her accompanying behavioral patterns. After this dichotomy is established, the therapist offers a roadmap of sorts that shows the ways that the client’s problematic behaviors are inhibiting progress toward the client’s desired state of being and incentivizes the client to change course.
Avoid Argumentation: The therapist will not argue with the patient. Argument causes defensiveness, resentment and resistance to change. Moreover, they will never tell the patient that the patient needs to change. Only the patient will advocate for their personal transformation.
Roll with Resistance: Through a combination of empathetic listening and conversational navigation, the therapist is able to smoothly overcome a patient’s objections, anger or reluctance. This is often simply a passive response to anger or other negative emotions. By disengaging with the patient’s negative emotions, the therapist remains as an ally, rather than an adversary of the patient.
Support Self-Efficacy: The final tenet is absolutely crucial to MET. It is rooted in the therapist’s understanding that the patient is capable of self-change. The therapist highlights the patient’s potential for self-betterment while keeping the ball firmly in the patient’s court. They are thoughtful cheerleaders rather than teammates or opponents.
Combined with other forms of treatment, MET offers a deeply effective tool for healing. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism regards it as one of the strongest tools in the fight against addiction.