Sometimes people with substance use disorder have trouble finding the motivation to seek treatment. They may be ambivalent towards, or even flat out opposed to changing their behavior for different reasons. For these individuals, motivational enhancement therapy (MET therapy), may offer the help they need to begin a healthier, more fulfilling life.
What is Motivational Interviewing Therapy
Motivational Enhancement Therapy is a short-term, patient-centered approach to therapy that focuses on increasing one’s motivation to change. It’s typically delivered in four (up to six) targeted therapy sessions.
In MET therapy, a therapist will help an individual resolve their mixed feelings related to change and become more willing and determined to better their life. Originally tried and tested in Project MATCH, a 1993 clinical trial evaluating treatment options for alcohol addiction, MET therapy is rooted in motivational psychology, using many of the same techniques as motivational interviewing. It also follows the transtheoretical model which includes 6 stages of change listed below:
In the pre-contemplation phase, someone struggling with substance use disorder is usually not interested in recovery and has no plans to take action to get out of addiction in the next six months.
A therapist will discuss with the patient the pros and cons of remaining in active addiction. In a non-judgemental way, they will evaluate what the patient’s life might be like if they seek change.
This is the stage where the patient makes a firm resolution to change their behavior – a time characterized by readiness and determination to leave addiction behind.
Once a patient has made the decision to put their best efforts into positively changing, it’s time for them to begin implementing those behavioral adjustments.
After recovery efforts have been sustained for an appreciable amount of time, the individual enters the maintenance phase. This stage is about continuing to employ the changes they’ve made and prevent relapse into old ways.
Behavioral changes and substance abuse recovery are not often linear. Rather than viewing relapse as discouraging, a therapist can help treat this as an opportunity to dig deeper into their patient’s resolve for lasting change to take root.
MET Therapy Techniques
Similar to motivational interviewing, MET therapy is based on a set of motivational principles meant to shift a patient’s attitude towards behavioral change:
The therapist will create a supportive and accepting environment that fosters a sense of respect through reflective listening.
A therapist will bring attention to the chasm between the patient’s desired state of being, and their current reality. The purpose is to raise awareness rather than inform or confront.
It’s crucial for the therapist to avoid any language that could be perceived as an attack by the patient, and rather gently point to problems or discrepancies in reasoning.
Roll With Resistance
Instead of addressing opposition from the patient head on, the therapist will try to keep the conversation calm in order to prevent defensiveness.
A key part to lasting recovery is a patient’s confidence that they can carry on without the constant hands-on help of therapists. In MET therapy, this sense of self-efficacy is reinforced.
The MET Therapy Process
The MET therapy process may look slightly different for everyone, but many treatment plans will include all of some of the following.
Initial Assessment And Diagnosis
Here, potential patients will speak with a knowledgeable admissions specialist who will review your background, your condition, and any coexisting medical conditions. From there, a recovery plan can be mapped out.
Most individuals who are eligible for MET therapy suffer from substance use disorder in some form. First, they must rid their body of harmful substances through detoxification. Though uncomfortable, patients can expect to be well supported and cared for through the entire process.
Residing at the treatment facility often offers patients the most ideal setting to focus on their healing free of distractions and the stress of everyday life. In inpatient rehab, patients receive support and care from trained, compassionate professionals, as well as encouragement and accountability from other residents.
How (and Why) MET Therapy Works
Motivational enhancement therapy is a systematic approach to eliciting changed behavior in patients who are otherwise ambivalent.
Rather than a therapist instructing or changing the patient’s thoughts, MET therapy seeks to empower the patient to mobilize their own internal resources to affect change.
In one study involving patients with mild to moderate alcohol dependence, approximately 22% fewer participants exhibited heavy drinking symptoms compared to two other treatment methods, suggesting the MET therapy was more effective in reducing alcohol dependence.
What’s the Best Way to Find Motivational Enhancement Therapy?
Before MET therapy can begin, one should seek a detox program through their physician or therapist. Other options include locating a center through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or via a drug addiction helpline.
Find MET Therapy Near Me
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Cost of MET Therapy
Individuals’ cost for MET therapy differs based on treatment needs and insurance coverage. A trusted admission specialist can help verify your insurance coverage and go over payment options.
Frequently Asked Questions about MET Therapy
What is the difference between MI and MET Therapy?
While very similar, motivational interviewing (MI) is considered a more broad treatment approach, whereas MET offers a more structured framework for evoking change.
What is the difference between MET and CBT?
MET therapy increases motivation for change while cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) assumes the patient is already ready
What is an example of MET therapy?
A therapist may ask, “What is keeping you from accomplishing your goals?”, actively listen to the patient’s answer, then summarize their response to demonstrate listening.
Miller, W. R., et al. (1999). Motivational Enhancement Therapy Manual. Retrieved from Project MATCH Volume 2: Motivational Enhancement Therapy Manual (nih.gov) on 6 July 2023
Miller, W. R. (1995). Motivational Enhancement Therapy with Drug Abusers. Retrieved from DocumentsManual.PDF (integrated recovery.org) on 6 July 2023
Sellman, J. D., et al. (2001). A randomized controlled trial of motivational enhancement therapy (MET) for mild to moderate alcohol dependence. Retrieved from A randomized controlled trial of motivational enhancement therapy (MET) for mild to moderate alcohol dependence.: Journal of Studies on Alcohol: Vol 62, No 3 (jsad.com) on 6 July 2023