Using concept mapping to understand motivational interviewing practice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Motivational interviewing (MI) has developed considerably since its inception, which may have led to diverse practice across contexts and differential understanding of core principles. Concept mapping is one potential method for offering insight into practitioner awareness, understanding and application of MI. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

In total, 29 professionals from a range of disciplines, including counselling, education and health, completed concept maps about MI, following brief training at the UK regional MI interest network. In total, 17 completed maps were submitted for analysis using quantitative and qualitative methods.

A total of 186 concepts and 175 propositional links were found within the 17 maps. The most commonly identified concepts were: change, empathy, collaboration, open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections, summaries (OARS), client centred and compassion. The concept maps also suggested differing levels of expertise across network members using concept mapping morphology classification.

Research limitations/implications
The sample was small scale and located in one region of the UK. Maps were submitted anonymously meaning that participant data could not be matched to the maps.

Practical implications
Concept mapping is a potentially useful method for auditing practice and developing skills in MI, as well as exploring participants’ understanding of related concepts and therapeutic mechanisms.

Social implications
MI has a strong evidence-based across a variety of disciplines and contexts. Refining practitioner skills in MI has implications for the integrity of delivery, and improved client outcomes in areas such as substance use, health promotion and educational disaffection.

This is the first study to investigate concept mapping as a means of understanding MI practice. It has potential implications for training, monitoring, supervision and development in MI practice.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Research Journal
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2019

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