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Motivational Interviewing Could Reduce Excessive Drinking by Students

A counseling style, called motivational interviewing (MI), can be used to reduce alcohol abuse by college students, particularly those under the legal drinking age//, according to Psychologists.

“The real beauty of this approach is that you guide students in a process of resolving a situation on their own,” said Dale Kirkley, alcohol and drug services coordinator at Appalachian’s Student Wellness Center. “By honestly reflecting on and recognizing the discrepancies between their current behavior and their real goals and values, they often develop safer and healthier strategies for socializing and having fun.”

The results of an on-campus study on MI have been published in the journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (2006, Vol. 37) in the article “Group-based motivational interviewing for alcohol use among college students: An exploratory study” co-authored by Kurt Michael, Lisa Curtin, Kirkley and Dan Jones. Michael and Curtin are professors in Appalachian’s Department of Psychology. Jones directs the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center.

“There is a rapidly growing movement with counselors to incorporate a motivational interviewing approach when working with behavioral change issues due to the evidence for its effectiveness,” Kirkley said.

MI is a collaborative rather than confrontational style that incorporates empathy, respect and acceptance. Because it has worked well to help individuals reduce high-risk behavior, such as drinking, Kirkley and others decided to try the technique in a group setting.

College students’ drinking behavior has long worried university officials nationwide. A recent study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that almost half of the nation’s full-time college students binge drink at least once a month.

“We had been talking about how we could do some kind of brief intervention to ameliorate some of the drin
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