The effect of motivational interviewing on ambivalence in social anxiety disorder

Mia Romano*, Lorna Peters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: One reason that motivational interviewing (MI) is thought to translate well to a variety of treatment domains is due to the focus on client ambivalence. 

Aims: Therefore, the current study aimed to explore the construct of ambivalence in the context of MI and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for social anxiety disorder (SAD). 

Method: Participants were 147 individuals diagnosed with SAD who were randomised to receive either MI or supportive counselling prior to receiving group CBT for SAD. 

Results: The results suggested that MI was not related to decreases in general ambivalence or treatment ambivalence, although an indicator of treatment ambivalence was found to predict worse treatment outcome. 

Conclusions: The findings suggest that three sessions of MI prior to CBT may not decrease ambivalence in participants with SAD, which may underscore the potential importance of tackling ambivalence as it arises during CBT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)684-695
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number6
Early online date19 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • motivational interviewing
  • social anxiety disorder
  • treatment ambivalence


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