The Best Motivational Interviewing Training Programs

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When it comes to facilitating behavioral changes, counselors, social workers, health care workers, and other similar professionals often use motivational interviewing. Through this evidence-based approach, skilled practitioners are able to empower people to make changes while honoring and respecting their autonomy.

One of the major tenets of this approach is that it requires the clinician to have expert communication and listening skills to facilitate change without directing, confronting, instructing, warning, or advising the person on what they should or should not do. Instead, the goal is to approach people in a respectful and curious manner that honors their ability to make their own choices.

Consequently, learning to interact with people using motivational interviewing takes time, practice, and patience. And because it is not always instinctive, a quality training program is needed for professionals to know how to effectively and ethically use motivational interviewing. If you are looking for quality motivational interviewing training programs, we've rounded up the best ones available to aid you in your search.

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Our Top Picks


Best Overall: Psychwire



Why We Chose It: Bill Miller and Steve Rollnick, are not only the pioneers behind the motivational interviewing approach but also founded a non-profit for people who practice the discipline of motivational interviewing. There is no better place to learn the most authentic and up-to-date version of motivational learning than from these two experts.

What We Like

  • Training provided by pioneers of motivational interviewing
  • Continuing Education (CE)/Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits are available
  • Separate programs for addiction and healthcare
  • Trainers are skilled and knowledgeable
  • Provide a non-profit organization with an exhaustive list of training opportunities

What We Don't Like

  • Can be costly if your budget is limited
  • Not much opportunity for simulations or practice

When it comes to learning the ins and outs of motivational interviewing, the best place to look for training options is with the creators of the motivational interviewing concept, Bill Miller and Steve Rollnick. As founders of Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT), Miller and Rollnick not only run this non-profit membership organization that trains and certifies professionals in motivational interviewing training, but they also offer instruction themselves through Psychwire.

So, if you want to make sure you are being trained in authentic motivational interviewing, consider the training options that Miller and Rollnick provide. As the pioneers of motivational interviewing, they offer training programs for those in the healthcare and addiction recovery fields as well as provide a foundational course.

In the foundational course, which is about $450 for a six-week program or 10 hours of work, you will learn how to engage with clients in a practical way so that they can find and build their motivation to change. Additionally, the course offers 10 CE/CME credits for those who are interested.

In its eight hour health care, motivational interviewing training program, which typically costs around $290, Rollnick and other health care professionals teach participants how to use their techniques to address all types of challenges in the health care industry. Each module includes video lessons, interactive quizzes, and commentary and offers eight CE/CME credits.

As for its six-week addiction motivational interviewing training program, which usually costs about $450, Miller, along with Dr. Theresa Moyers, teach attendees how to utilize motivational interviewing to harness their client's internal desires to change. Each module includes video lessons as well as multiple treatment demonstrations.

In addition to providing their own training program, Miller and Rollnick also include an extensive list of motivational interviewing courses available from MINT members on their website.


Best Budget: The Varalli Group


Courtesy of The Varalli Group

Why We Chose It: This training program provided by The Varalli Group offers 20 courses at an extremely low price, allowing people to try their training with little risk or financial commitment.

What We Like

  • Opportunity to try one or two courses at a minimal cost
  • Not required to make a huge financial commitment
  • NAADAC approved education provider
  • Provides good variety

What We Don't Like

  • May be time-consuming to get CE/CME credit
  • Self-paced program without much interaction or assistance

With more than 20 reasonably-priced courses available for people looking to learn more about motivational interviewing, the web-based training courses offered by The Varalli Group are worth looking into. What's more, this organization is approved as an education provider by the NAADAC (National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors).

At roughly $15 per course or about $249 for all 20 motivational interviewing courses, this organization is one of the most reasonably-priced providers of motivational interviewing training. It also offers five interactive online courses for supervisors and managers for around $25 per session, or approximately $110 for all five lessons. Additionally, if you need CE credit, the organization suggests that you let them know in advance so that they can work with you to help you meet your requirements.

In addition to its web-based training programs, The Varalli Group also offers SBIRT training (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment), which is a SAMSHA-sponsored training program and is motivational interviewing treatment integrity (MITI) coding and coaching.

Overall, The Varalli Group is a great place to start for budget-conscious professionals looking to get started with motivational interviewing training.


Best Certificate-Based: University of Maryland School of Social Work

University of Maryland School of Social Work

 University of Maryland School of Social Work

Why We Chose It: This University of Maryland's certificate-based program provides the best hands-on experience in a small and intimate environment of any program out there and awards a certificate of completion at the end.

What We Like

  • Class size is intimate and limited to 30 students
  • Personalized attention and coaching
  • Opportunities for practicing the skills learned
  • Instructor may assist with application for MINT

What We Don't Like

  • Information about costs not readily available
  • Course not suited for beginners

Taught by a MINT-certified instructor and limited to just 30 students at a time, this certificate-based motivational interviewing training program by the University of Maryland provides great information and training for professionals looking for an intimate environment and plenty of hands-on experience.

The structure of the course was built with the working professional in-mind and includes a combination of in-person instruction and online learning. What's more, there are plenty of opportunities for hands-on practice, as well as coaching.

The lesson is ideal for social workers with some knowledge of motivational interviewing as well as those in administration or management. Although this program is not affiliated with MINT (Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers) and is not a pre-requisite for membership, you may wish to include your test scores with your application if you're planning to apply. Likewise, the instructor may be able to serve as a personal reference for membership if you are successful in the course.

Contact the University of Maryland directly about costs.


Best for Health Professionals: University of Massachusetts


Courtesy of the University of Massachusetts

Why We Chose It: Aside from being geared specifically toward health care professionals, this training program offered by the University of Massachusetts includes an intensive program that allows a lot of opportunity for hands-on practice.

What We Like

  • Opportunities for both beginners and experts
  • Good variety of teaching methods used
  • Plenty of opportunity for hands-on practice (in an intensive program)
  • Trainees receive a certificate at completion

What We Don't Like

  • Fees are exorbitant for an intensive program
  • A long-time commitment for an intensive program

If you are a health professional who works with patients on everything from medication adherence and pain management to tobacco cessation and drug use, you may want to look into the motivational interviewing courses at the University of Massachusetts.

Designed for everyone from beginners to experts, UMASS Medical School's Center for Integrated Primary Care offers a certificate of intensive training in motivational interviewing for health professionals. It also has an introductory course and a knowledge building course. Plus, there are opportunities for you to keep your skills sharp by practicing with an "acting patient."

The semester-long, certificate of an intensive training course is founded on the principles of motivational interviewing laid out by Miller and Rollnick, the founders of MINT. The program comes with 10 pre-recorded online lessons, five live online learning labs, two practice sessions with an acting patient, and two individual coaching sessions. This program is offered twice a year and costs about $1,400.

Meanwhile, the introductory course can be completed in about an hour and costs roughly $70, while the knowledge course costs approximately $700 and can usually be completed in three months. It's possible to earn CE credit with the course, and there are special rates for groups of 10 or more people. Overall, the knowledge course includes 10 pre-recorded online lessons that are about 40 to 70 minutes in length that can be completed at your own pace.


Best for Professionals Working in Addiction Recovery: Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network


Courtesy of ATTC

Why We Chose It: When it comes to working with people with addictions, there is no better resource than SAMHSA. Since ATTC is funded by that organization, it lends credibility to its training programs, especially for those working in addiction recovery.

What We Like

  • Connected to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a respected source in the industry
  • Offers CE credit
  • Provides patient simulations for trainees to practice
  • Offers free webinars with useful information

What We Don't Like

  • Some of the online materials are dated
  • Pricing information is not readily available

Funded by SAMHSA, Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network (ATTC) offers several different training programs for motivational interviewing.

For instance, the Northwest ATTC has introductory and advanced courses, as well as sessions on how to use motivational interviewing in group settings, each of which is a two-day course. The organization also offers two online options, including a Tour of Motivational Learning, which is a 4-hour course that's also worth an equal amount of continuing education (CE) credit.

Because ATTC is funded by SAMHSA, the organization is in tune with what is best needed for professionals working with individuals struggling with addiction. It also offers patient simulations that let professionals practice their skills in a controlled setting before putting them to use with actual clients or patients.

Additionally, Northwest ATTC, as well as the other branches, offer monthly webinars on a variety of topics for those who want to expand its professional toolkit. What's more, these webinars, which often feature well-respected professionals in the industry, can be viewed at a later date if you happen to miss one. Plus, they often cover motivational interviewing as well.

The organization's website does not mention a cost but instead encourages those interested to email for more information. However, the majority of the monthly webinars are free, but require registration in advance.

Bottom Line

If you're considering registering for a motivational interviewing training program, carefully review the time commitment as well as the cost involved. Additionally, if you are hoping to earn continuing education credit, be sure that the program will meet those requirements before enrolling. With these guidelines met, then focus on determining which training program is best for you.

Additionally, if this is your first time signing up for a motivational interviewing training program, check out some of the free online videos that are provided through a number of professional organizations. For instance, the ASAM offers a number of free videos on motivational interviewing that might be of interest. Then you can make a well-informed decision about which training program will be best while meeting your employer's requirements.

What Should You Look for in a Motivational Interviewing Training Program?

When looking for a motivational interviewing training program, pay close attention to the qualifications of the instructor as well as the organization. Both should be skilled in using motivational interviewing as a practitioner and as a trainer. They also should be up-to-date on training themselves and be able to model and demonstrate the skills needed to practice motivational interviewing.

Also, look at the learning objectives or goals of the training program to ensure they are in line with your goals. Another key element of evaluating motivational interviewing training programs is to determine what level of expertise the training is designed for. In other words, if you are a beginner, you don't want to attend a training program designed for an expert.

Finally, look for training programs that offer a variety of teaching methods, as well as plenty of opportunities to practice what you are learning. It is hard to get anything out of a program that only requires you to sit in front of a computer and listen to someone else talk. Consequently, look for programs that provide interactive quizzes or allow you to break out into small groups (even online). The more that you interact with the training program and the others participating, the more information you will retain.

What Can You Expect to Learn With Motivational Interviewing Training Programs?

With a high-quality training program, you can expect to learn the core elements of motivational interviewing, as well as the skills and processes used to implement motivational interviewing when interacting with clients. Additionally, you should have some opportunities to practice what you have learned either through simulations, small groups, interactive quizzes, or other hands-on training methods.

What Are the Benefits of Motivational Interviewing Training Programs?

Because this approach to treatment is evidence-based and effective, it is an important skill for you to add to your repertoire, especially if you work with people who struggle with drug use or addiction. Likewise, people in health care as well as those who work in the criminal justice system have found these training programs provide them with skills that prove useful in their day-to-day work environment.

For instance, a review of 72 studies indicated that motivational interviewing had a significant impact in approximately three out of four of them, with an equal effect on physiological (72%) and psychological (75%) diseases." Meanwhile, another study found that this approach to treatment is 10% to 20% more effective than no therapy and is on par with other treatment approaches designed for addictions and risky behaviors. Thus, it's important for clinicians who work in these key areas to know how to use these treatment methods.

How We Chose the Best Motivational Interviewing Training Programs

When reviewing motivational interviewing training programs, we considered the largest and most well-known training programs in the United States. Then, we evaluated how their training programs are delivered, their accreditations, their affiliations, and their costs. We also looked for programs that offer continuing education or continuing medical education credits, because many professionals are required to earn credits on a regular basis.

Because finding the ideal training program is often based on personal preference, as well as your employer's guidelines, it's important that you evaluate the merits of each program against your own set of needs and requirements. This step is especially important if your employer is paying for the training or expects you to earn CE credits.

If you don't find a training program that meets your guidelines in our list, check with any professional organizations you belong to like the American Society of Addiction Medicine or National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. You can also visit the MINT website for a list of training options.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Rubak S, Sandbaek A, Lauritzen T, Christensen B. Motivational interviewing: a systematic review and meta-analysisBr J Gen Pract. 2005;55(513):305-312.

  3. Lundahl B, Burke BL. The effectiveness and applicability of motivational interviewing: a practice-friendly review of four meta-analysesJ Clin Psychol. 2009;65(11):1232-1245. doi:10.1002/jclp.20638

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert. She's also the former editor of Columbus Parent and has countless years of experience writing and researching health and social issues.