Science, Spirit, and the Spread of Motivational Interviewing
A history of motivational interviewing and what its rise reveals about how cultural forms emerge and spread.
Motivational interviewing (MI) is a professional practice, a behavioral therapy, and a self-professed conversation style that encourages clients to talk themselves into change. Originally developed to treat alcoholics, MI quickly spread into a variety of professional fields including corrections, medicine, and sanitation. In Working the Difference, E. Summerson Carr focuses on the training and dissemination of MI to explore how cultural forms—and particularly forms of expertise—emerge and spread. The result is a compelling analysis of the American preoccupations at MI’s core, from democratic autonomy and freedom of speech to Protestant ethics and American pragmatism.