Motivational Enhancement Therapy for Addiction

Motivational Enhancement Therapy, or MET, is a way to address people who have problems with drugs and alcohol. In fact, there is no contact, confrontation, or judgment involved. As a result, it leads to quick intrinsic improvements with an individual’s engagement with treatment for addiction. When combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy, it is especially effective for treating certain types of substance misuse disorders. At Harmony Place in Woodland Hills, we understand the benefits of being motivated to seek treatment and to remain sober in the long term. Therefore, we encourage MET for addiction problems.

What is Motivational Enhancement Therapy?

Motivational enhancement therapy is a kind of treatment that is designed to assist people who are uneasy about seeking help for a drug or alcohol misuse problem. In other words, it helps a person resist change and encourages engagement toward treatment. Instead of being part of a treatment program, it provides the motivation that helps a person with a substance misuse disorder to invoke change against unhealthy behaviors.

When Did MET Begin?

In 1993, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism began an initiative to help people who abuse drugs and alcohol. It creates an internal drive to get through addiction and to encourage a long-term sober lifestyle. In fact, the techniques of this theory are based on interviews and counseling. In other words, a therapist assesses a person’s behavior and offers helpful feedback.

The Theory Behind MET

Motivational Enhancement Therapy for AddictionTo be sure, motivational enhancement therapy involves certain assumptions. It is important to understand them so that an individual comprehends the reasons for success behind the therapy.

  • Patients already have the ability from within to make changes against substance abuse. MET helps individuals resolve and commit to the changes.
  • Being wary of change is the top roadblock toward healthy behaviors.
  • Patients enter treatment with different levels of readiness. Therefore, a therapist needs to provide motivation.
  • Persuasion is ineffective and may keep patients from changing behavior.
  • Patient denial is actually helpful and offers valuable feedback.
  • Altogether, the patient and the therapist form a partnership.

Goals of MET

This client-centered approach to treatment helps patients learn copy mechanisms to get through challenging situations. It targets a person’s ambivalent feelings toward treatment in hopes of turning it around. In other words, the major goal of this therapy is to help individuals with drug and alcohol misuse disorders gain empowerment and to make positive changes. 

Indeed, a therapist motivates behavioral changes. As treatment progresses, an individual commits to a life that is free of drugs and alcohol. After all, MET does not change unhealthy habits or patterns. However, it effectively makes a person appreciate the need for treatment.

What is Involved with Motivational Enhancement Therapy Sessions?

MET is brief, but it is designed to push for change. To begin, an assessment is completed. After the first session between a therapist and a patient, two to four other sessions are scheduled. Each is usually under one hour in length.

First Session

Overall, the first session includes an evaluation by a therapist. Also, a patient and a therapist work to set goals that help to fight substance misuse issues. However, emphasis is placed on personal control. This helps an individual develop a healthier way to deal with addiction and to stay away from drugs and alcohol. Patients discuss any concerns that are weighing on their minds. Discussion and motivational conversations ensue about substance misuse.

Follow-Up Sessions

In future sessions, a person’s motivation increases. In fact, a plan is developed, which changes thoughts and actions. A patient sets various goals and identifies roadblocks that may develop to hamper these goals. Instead of using medication to deal with problems, a patient develops useful solutions. Overall, progress is documented.

Important Principle involved in METImportant Principle involved in MET

Indeed, the main goal of the treatment is to heighten a person’s awareness about poor behaviors and to increase his or her internal motivation so that they understand the necessity to change. A MET therapist teaches a patient ways to adjust negative thoughts so that he or she gains the confidence to change for the better. As a result, this helps an individual with a substance misuse disorder to change behavior and to remain sober. To sum up, there are five vital parts of MET.


In effect, the first principle of motivational enhancement therapy establishes trust between a therapist and a patient. A therapist listens without confrontation or judgment so that the patient feels supported, respected, and accepted. Therefore, the individual realizes that there is more to life than negative behavior. The therapist listens to the patient and reflects on the expressed ideas. In other words, the patient elaborates on these ideas and confirms that change must occur.


A patient discusses goals and recovery. As a result, a therapist begins an outline of the job that is ahead. This establishes a discrepancy between a patient’s current state and the state that he or she wishes to achieve. This helps a person recognize the behaviors that are keeping him or her from getting to his or her goal. In many ways, this offers an incentive for behavior change. Therapy bridges the gap between a patient’s current life and the life that he or she wants.

Avoiding Arguments

Again, the focus of MET is to reinforce positive behavior. Therefore, there are no attacks or arguments from a therapist. In fact, judgment will make a person with a substance misuse disorder get defensive and will have a counterproductive outcome. Instead, MET raises the awareness of poor behavior and the changes that must occur to gain long-term sobriety.


MET acknowledges that certain resistance remains. The treatment goes along with leftover resistance without confrontation. It is essential to comprehend that change is difficult. Even though it may seem counterproductive, a patient becomes less defensive, and he or she is more likely to remain in therapy and pursue a solid rehab program.


Patients become self-aware and comprehend that they can reach their goals. A therapist helps people with substance misuse problems to change and to successfully turn against addictive behaviors.

Stages of Change

Since MET involves change, it is important to examine the various stages of the process. Studies were completed that analyzed how individuals change addictive behavior. They entail specific stages of the modification of problematic behavior toward healthier behavior. In essence, MET addresses the place where the patient is located within these stages so that it is possible to guide him or her towards recovery.

  • Precontemplation: In this stage, an individual is not considering a change. In fact, he or she may still be pursuing negative behavior.
  • Contemplation: This is the stage where a person starts to consider that a problem exists. Also, he or she weighs the pros and cons of change.
  • Determination: In fact, this stage is where a person makes the decision to take action.
  • Action: After a person starts to change his or her behavior, he or she is in the action stage.
  • Maintenance: This stage occurs after an action has been completed. A person performs maintenance so that action is sustained.
  • Potential Relapse: Indeed, there is the possibility that efforts may fail. In other words, a person may need to start this cycle again.

How MET Benefits Individuals Who are in Recovery from Addiction

In fact, this kind of therapy has been proven to help high-risk individuals who have substance misuse disorders. It finishes over a span of a few weeks.

Unfortunately, there is not one single therapy approach for treating addiction. Each person suffers from unique challenges. In certain studies, motivational enhancement therapy was found to be effective and to assist individuals with substance misuse issues. In fact, it helps people overcome resistance to change, which is the building block towards a successful recovery. 

When a person is ready and willing to alter behaviors, it is possible to enjoy a sober lifestyle. In other words, it increases a person’s readiness to go against negative addictive behavior. Also, it has been proven to lower the severity of drug or alcohol abuse and to lengthen the terms of abstinence.

Combining MET with Other Therapies

In essence, MET can be used alone, but it is often accompanied by other kinds of psychotherapy. By and large, it acts as a pre-treatment so that a patient gains motivation before beginning other therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Harmony Place Can Help You Today

Motivational enhancement therapy helps individuals harness their inner resources to begin changing behavior. It focuses on an individual’s personal choices and self-control. In this manner, it makes a person more powerful against alcohol and drugs. 

At Harmony Place, we understand the need for individuals to recognize the importance of change and that it begins internally. In essence, this is the turning point in a person’s life that can help towards long-term recovery. For more information about ways to treat addiction, contact us today.