Motivational interviewing for social anxiety disorder: an examination of the technical hypothesis

Mia Romano*, Jelena Arambasic, Lorna Peters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background and objective: Motivational interviewing (MI) was originally developed to treat problematic drinking but is increasingly integrated into treatment for anxiety disorders. A causal model has been proposed which suggests technical and relational factors may account for the efficacy of MI. The technical hypothesis suggests that therapist MI-consistent behaviours are related to client change talk, and change talk is linked to treatment outcome. Research examining the technical hypothesis has typically been conducted in MI for substance use; therefore, the current study aimed to explore the technical hypothesis in MI for social anxiety disorder (SAD). Method: Participants diagnosed with SAD (n = 85) each received MI prior to receiving group cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). MI sessions were coded for behaviours relevant to the MI technical hypothesis. Results: The proportion of MI-consistent therapist behaviours and reflections of change language significantly predicted the proportion of change talk by the client during MI sessions; however, therapist and client behaviours did not predict treatment outcome. Conclusion: The findings support one path of the MI causal model in the context of social anxiety, though indicate that the occurrence of these behaviours during an MI pre-treatment may not extend to predict treatment outcome following CBT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-235
Number of pages12
JournalPsychotherapy Research
Issue number2
Early online date20 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • change talk
  • therapist behaviours
  • motivational interviewing
  • causal model
  • social anxiety disorder


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