15 Motivational Interviewing Books to Help Clients Change

Motivational Interviewing BooksIn the absence of motivation, health-related advice is often ignored and behavior change is blocked by ambivalence (Miller & Rollnick, 2013).

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a proven counseling method that enhances motivation to change in adolescents and adults, resting on the premise that clients change when/if they believe they can do so.

Research shows that MI is effective at improving positive health-related behavior, including decreasing sexual risk behaviors and drug and alcohol use, and improving diabetes management and adherence to medication and treatment (Hall, Gibbie, & Lubman, 2012).

The books in this article are valuable for individuals seeking to live differently and practitioners helping clients who are unwilling or unable to change.

Before you continue, you might like to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients create actionable goals and master techniques to create lasting behavior change.

Motivational Interviewing Books to Help Clients

Motivational interviewing recognizes that ambivalence is a normal aspect of human behavior and a necessary part of the change process. It can provide a helpful method for resolving such ambivalence through eliciting and reinforcing change talk (Miller & Rollnick, 2013).

Research has confirmed the importance of the client’s autonomy and their relationship with the MI practitioner to arrive at a plan for change.

The following books provide valuable insight into the research, theories, and practices of MI and guide the reader through how to increase their own or their clients’ motivation for change. We have grouped the reading into three sections: general approach to MI, specific applications of MI, and workbooks.

Download 3 Free Goals Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients create actionable goals and master techniques for lasting behavior change.

General Approach to Motivational Interviewing

To introduce you to material regarding MI, we first start with a more general approach, and list books that falls within this grouping.

1. Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change – William Miller and Stephen Rollnick

motivational interviewing

This is one of the bestselling and most authoritative books on the subject of MI. The text uses a clear and practical style to guide both students and professionals through MI’s four key processes: engaging, focusing, evoking, and planning.

Using numerous examples, this highly accessible book explains how to implement the approach across a broad context, providing extra supporting resources from a companion webpage.

Additional features include boxes providing special topics and personal reflections, a quick reference glossary, and online questions and case studies.

At the end of each section is a helpful list of the key points summarizing what has been covered.

Find the book on Amazon.


Motivational interviewing for behavior change

2. Motivational Interviewing and CBT: Combining Strategies for Maximum Effectiveness – Sylvie Naar and Steven Safren

MI and CBT

Sylvie Naar and Steven Safren’s book shows how therapists can combine MI with the incredible power of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to deliver better outcomes for their clients.

The authors explain how it is possible to use MI strategies, either as a pre-treatment intervention or during CBT, to boost motivation in the client and strengthen the therapeutic relationship.

Thirty-five reproducible handouts, along with sample dialogues and learning exercises, are available from the website that accompanies the book.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. Fundamentals of Motivational Interviewing: Tips And Strategies for Addressing Common Clinical Challenges – Julie Schumacher and Michael Madson


This book is an essential guide for anyone wishing to understand how to use MI across multiple disciplines and professions.

The techniques and skills introduced can guide clients from many backgrounds (including those with a criminal past, anxiety and mood problems, and poor health) to make positive life changes.

The text is highly accessible, well organized, and aimed at busy individuals, whether they are new to MI or more experienced providers. Clear examples are given throughout, and the book is equally valuable for the student, teacher, or user of MI.

Find the book on Amazon.

Specific Applications of Motivational Interviewing

MI being used in very specific applications, is the second grouping of books we review.

1. Motivational Interviewing in Health Care: Helping Patients Change Behavior – Stephen Rollnick, William Miller, and Christopher Butler

MI Health Care

The authors wrote this book for healthcare professionals interested in understanding how behavioral change can help patients manage underlying conditions.

While concise, the text contains several powerful tools to improve communication with clients and encourage them to make more positive health choices, including exercise, weight loss, and medical adherence.

The dialogues and vignettes contained within enliven MI’s core skills and how we can use them in healthcare settings.

The book has been very well received and is a core text for several educational institutes and a must for professionals in healthcare environments.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Motivational Interviewing in Nutrition and Fitness (Applications of Motivational Interviewing) – Dawn Clifford and Laura Curtis

MI in Nutrition

Healthcare practitioners have the potential to help patients and clients implement long-lasting changes to their nutrition and fitness even when transformation is not easy and met with resistance.

This book presents MI as a proven counseling approach to work through ambivalence, helping clients break free of the quick-fix approach to wellness and wellbeing.

Worksheets and forms for working with clients are downloadable and printable, and detailed dialogues guide conversations on exercise, body image, and meal planning.

This book is of particular importance within the discipline of dietary and physical activity, where resistance to change is often prevalent.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. Motivational Interviewing for School Counselors – Reagan North

MI Schools

Reagan North is a school counselor who has learned how to use MI within the educational setting.

North provides a practical approach, explaining how MI ideas and techniques can help make positive changes to students’ lives, motivating them to form relationships, improve grades, kick unhelpful habits, and ultimately live more meaningful lives.

The book helps counselors tap into students’ needs and desires and use MI to change habits and work toward goals.

Find the book on Amazon.

4. Motivational Interviewing in Social Work Practice – Melinda Hohman

MI Social Work

Most social workers are familiar with their clients’ ambivalence regarding changing existing behavior and its potential for damaging themselves and others. MI can help clients draw on their strengths and commit to positive changes.

Melinda Hohman’s book introduces MI’s fundamentals and how to implement its core skills and techniques in a practical and helpful way.

Using open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections, and summaries can help support clients’ autonomy and identify their values in line with social work principles.

Case examples bring the text to life, and best practices provide a valuable guide for social workers across multiple settings.

Find the book on Amazon.

5. Motivational Interviewing for Leaders in the Helping Professions: Facilitating Change in Organizations – Colleen Marshall and Anette Nielsen

MI for leaders

This book also explores the use of MI in the healthcare and social services setting, but this time it is aimed at leaders.

Colleen Marshall and Anette Nielsen introduce the reader to powerful techniques to support employees through mentoring, performance issues, and redesigning processes.

The authors say they aim to help organizations become “unstuck” through the skilled use of core motivational interviewing principles.

The user-friendly text is well supported, with many worksheets, reflection exercises, and extended case studies available from a companion website.

Find the book on Amazon.

6. Motivational Interviewing in Schools: Conversations to Improve Behavior and Learning – Stephen Rollnick, Sebastian Kaplan, and Richard Rutschman

MI in schools

Written by one of the creators of MI plus two school teachers, this book is a valuable read for teachers wishing to use MI as a counseling approach with their students. It covers how to make use of everyday interactions with students to inspire change.

The text includes all the essential skills and strategies required for MI, along with sample dialogues with students and their parents that promote personal growth and problem solving.

The companion website provides additional downloadable resources for use by teachers, school psychologists, counselors, and social workers.

Find the book on Amazon.

7. Motivational Interviewing with Adolescents and Young Adults – Sylvie Naar-King and Mariann Suarez

Mi Adolescents

Sylvie Naar-King and Mariann Suarez explore MI’s incredible value for helpful and productive conversations with young adults and adolescents.

The book is centered around helping practitioners build rapport with young people to increase motivation, overcome ambivalence, and make positive, healthy changes.

While particular attention is paid to eating disorders, substance abuse, obesity, and chronic illness management, it also includes behavioral problems.

Find the book on Amazon.

8. Motivational Interviewing for Clinical Practice – Petros Levounis, Bachaar Arnaout, and Carla Marienfeld

MI Clinical

This excellent guide to MI in clinical practice takes the reader through all the motivational interviewing steps, skills, and strategies needed to adopt and even teach the approach.

The book is valuable for both beginning clinicians and experienced practitioners (including nurse practitioners, family physicians, counselors, and social workers) and includes insightful and engaging case examples to clarify its application.

Each chapter ends with a set of study questions and answers to challenge understanding and drive home the points covered. This valuable text is perfect for anyone who requires a better understanding of the value of motivational work in the treatment of their patients.

Find the book on Amazon.

9. Motivational Interviewing in the Treatment of Anxiety – Henny Westra

MI Anxiety

This book introducing MI’s principles focuses on helping those with anxiety overcome ambivalence and increase their intrinsic motivation to change.

Henny Westra explains how to use MI as a pre-treatment or combined with CBT (or other anxiety-focused treatments) to overcome motivational impasses.

The book includes detailed coverage of several case studies to understand the best use of MI to help patients experiencing anxiety or depression.

Both practical and compassionate, this guide explains to new and experienced clinicians how to apply MI to access clients’ maximum potential and wisdom.

Find the book on Amazon.

MI Workbooks

MI workbooks are practical approaches to getting to know and apply this concept. Select any of the following for useful guidance.

1. The Motivational Interviewing Workbook: Exercises to Decide What You Want and How to Get There – Angela Wood

MI Workbook

Angela Wood’s workbook is a practical guide to support the use of MI, helping clients as they identify, understand, and make changes to their lives.

This easily understood book is ideal as homework for clients between sessions or interested individuals working alone.

It will clarify readers’ commitment to change, build their motivation, and empower them for the future.

Key points covered include:

  • Learning what MI is and how it can help personal change
  • Identifying what you want to do while recognizing obstacles
  • Exploring why you want to make the change
  • How to develop a detailed and practical plan to get to where you want to be

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Building Motivational Interviewing Skills: A Practitioner Workbook – David Rosengren

Building MI Skills

This book is an essential text for mental health and healthcare professionals who require a clear and practical approach to MI.

This second edition has been updated to include the most recent advances in theory and practice and is a popular book among practitioners.

Providing clear explanations of the key MI concepts, it helps the reader build a deep understanding of MI’s four processes: engaging, focusing, evoking, and planning.

David Rosengren explores the importance of open-ended questions, affirmations, reflective listening, and summarizing, and includes sample dialogues and practical motivational interviewing exercises.

The 80 reproducible worksheets offer a valuable resource to practitioners, clients, and anyone wishing to engage in motivationally enhancing conversations using MI.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. How to Do Motivational Interviewing: A Guidebook – Bill Matulich

How to MI

Bill Matulich is an experienced psychologist, psychotherapist, and MI instructor.

In this concise book, he explores how to use the client’s arguments to encourage behavior change while taking the reader through MI’s core elements.

This succinct step-by-step guide will help those new to MI develop the skills needed to work with clients and is the perfect introduction for anyone in a helping profession.

Find the book on Amazon.

PositivePsychology.com’s Resources

We have many tools that can help increase the motivation required for change alongside worksheets that are valuable for identifying and working toward goals:

  • Building New Habits
    Creating and implementing new habits is often easier when we understand how they work.
  • Social Problem Solving & Goal Planning
    It is essential that we recognize and understand our problem-solving goals and identify and confirm the existence of any barriers.
  • SCAMP – Goal Setting
    The SCAMP acronym is useful when capturing and defining goals.

17 Motivation & Goal-Achievement Exercises
If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others reach their goals, this collection contains 17 validated motivation & goals-achievement tools for practitioners. Use them to help others turn their dreams into reality by applying the latest science-based behavioral change techniques.

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Our free Goal Achievement Exercises Pack features three of our top tools from the Positive Psychology Toolkit©, all of which center on the themes of motivation and goal achievement:

  • Advanced Goal Analysis
    This exercise teaches clients the many different ways goals may be structured and invites them to examine their own goal formulations. By carrying out this detailed analysis, clients can consider how they might reformulate less effective goals to support their successful attainment.
  • Goal Visualization
    This visualization invites clients to identify a personal goal they’d like to accomplish and imagine the emotions and actions involved in achieving it over the course of one year. By doing this, clients can increase their expectations of success, enhance motivation, and initiate planning and problem-solving actions in the present.
  • Realizing Long-Lasting Change by Setting Process Goals
    This intervention teaches different approaches to habit-formation that support long-lasting change and goal achievement. In it, clients identify one goal they’d like to accomplish and develop a habit creation plan to guide sustainable efforts toward this goal.

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These 17 Motivation & Goal Achievement Exercises [PDF] contain all you need to help others set meaningful goals, increase self-drive, and experience greater accomplishment and life satisfaction.

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A Take-Home Message

Behavior change is a crucial aspect of human health. Indeed, many of our health problems are preventable or can be improved by ourselves or others (Rollnick, Miller, & Butler, 2007).

Motivational interviewing does not trick people into doing what they don’t want; rather, it is a valuable clinical style for “eliciting from patients their own good motivations for making behavior changes in the interests of their own health” (Rollnick et al., 2007).

While it is seemingly foundational, health professionals are often not taught how to get their patients to follow treatment plans or help them change their health behaviors (Levounis, Arnaout, & Marienfeld, 2017).

MI is an essential clinical practice that engages clients in their treatment, requiring knowledge of skills including using open-ended questions, reflections rather than closed-ended questions, and summarizing to move them toward change.

The books within this article all share valuable research, theory, and practices that encourage clients to make their own decisions regarding adopting positive changes in line with their deeply held values.

Let us know in the comments below if you have found any other reading material equally applicable to Motivational Interviewing, which you would like to recommend.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free.


  • Clifford, D., & Curtis, L. (2015). Motivational interviewing in nutrition and fitness (Applications of motivational interviewing). Guilford Press.
  • Hall, K., Gibbie, T., & Lubman, D. I. (2012). Motivational interviewing techniques: Facilitating behaviour change in the general practice setting. Australian Family Physician41(9), 660–667.
  • Hohman, M. (2011). Motivational interviewing in social work practice (Applications of motivational interviewing). Guilford Press.
  • Levounis, P., Arnaout, B., & Marienfeld, C. (Eds.). (2017). Motivational interviewing for clinical practice. American Psychiatric Association.
  • Marshall, C., & Nielsen, A. S. (2020). Motivational interviewing for leaders in the helping professions: Facilitating change in organizations (Applications of motivational interviewing). Guilford Press.
  • Matulich, B. (2013). How to do motivational interviewing: A guidebook (2nd ed.). Author.
  • Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational interviewing: Helping people change (3rd. ed.). Guilford Press.
  • Naar, S., & Safren, S. A. (2017). Motivational interviewing and CBT: Combining strategies for maximum effectiveness (Applications of motivational interviewing). Guilford Press.
  • Naar-King, S., & Suarez, M. (2010). Motivational interviewing with adolescents and young adults (Applications of motivational interviewing). Guilford Press.
  • North, R. A. (2017). Motivational interviewing for school counselors. Author.
  • Schumacher, J. A., & Madson, M. B. (2014). Fundamentals of motivational interviewing: Tips and strategies for addressing common clinical challenges. Oxford University Press.
  • Rollnick, S., Kaplan, S. G., & Rutschman, R. (2016). Motivational interviewing in schools: Conversations to improve behavior and learning (Applications of motivational interviewing). Guilford Press.
  • Rollnick, S., Miller, W., & Butler, C. (2007). Motivational interviewing in health care: Helping patients change behavior (Applications of motivational interviewing). Guilford Press.
  • Rosengren, D. B. (2017). Building motivational interviewing skills: A practitioner workbook (Applications of motivational interviewing) (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.
  • Westra, H. A. (2012). Motivational interviewing in the treatment of anxiety (Applications of motivational interviewing). Guilford Press.
  • Wood, A. (2020). The motivational interviewing workbook: Exercises to decide what you want and how to get there. Rockridge Press.

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