What Is Motivational Therapy?

What is Motivational Therapy?

What Is Motivational Therapy?

Motivation is an important tool in your recovery. Personal growth and lifestyle changes are impossible to maintain without motivation. Sometimes, intrinsic motivation will be enough for you to reach a recovery goal, but sometimes you’ll need to create extrinsic motivation to keep your focus on your goals when you hit a bump in your recovery.

Many treatment facilities offer motivational interviewing (MI) as a therapy treatment option for substance use disorders (SUDs). MI can help you find the motivation to work on your personal growth. Self-motivation is integral to emotional growth because no one can make you do something you don’t want to do. If you don’t have the motivation to change your lifestyle and make healthier choices, you won’t.

Defining Motivation

Self-determination theory (SDT) theorizes the cause of human motivation. The theory arose in the late 1970s and early 1980s and explores the control you have over your behavior. According to the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity,SDT defines motivation as psychological energy directed at a particular goal.” Examples would include practicing an instrument with the intent of improving your scales or playing a video game with the intent of completing a level.

Motivation comes in both quantity and quality. In other words, some types of motivation will be stronger than others. Generally, motivation has been characterized as being either extrinsic or intrinsic. However, most motivation stems from a combination of the two.


Motivation can be created by external forces. For instance, amassing wealth, gaining or losing friendships, or avoiding getting soaked in the rain are all extrinsic motivational factors. Extrinsic motivation can come from positive or negative stimuli that reinforce productive behaviors to help you reach a specific goal. Behaviors that are motivated externally have a specific intended outcome and are focused on achieving a specific goal.


The reward for intrinsic motivation is the behavior itself. Unlike extrinsic motivations, intrinsic motivations result in desired behavior which also serves as the reward or goal. Intrinsic motivation stems from your interests and curiosities that produce positive emotions. For example, if organizing your pantry cabinet gives you a sense of accomplishment, you’ll be motivated to keep it organized. Likely no one is paying you to organize your pantry or giving you any other type of external reward. You engage in this behavior solely because you want to. Engaging in this type of behavior may be intrinsically motivated by a feeling of accomplishment or control.

Creating Motivation in Recovery

Intrinsic motivation isn’t always easy to come by, especially if you struggle with a mental health disorder that may make it more difficult to feel motivated. Motivational malfunctioning is associated with symptoms of neurological, depressive, and schizophrenic disorders such as apathy, anhedonia, and negative schizophrenic symptoms. However, even people who do not struggle with these symptoms need to create their motivation sometimes. Productive behaviors don’t occur naturally for anyone all the time. We want our behaviors to give us a sense of purpose and a sense of moving toward a goal, which is why goal setting and planning can provide a strong extrinsic motivator.

Goal Setting

To stay motivated during your recovery, it’s important not only to set goals but to break them down into digestible parts. Motivation is easier to find when you know what your end goal is. Use the SMART method to make goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timed. This will increase your motivation by giving you specific steps toward your goal.

Try writing your goals down in a journal or mapping them out in a word document. Any type of visual representation of your goals will make them feel attainable and real. It will make your goals feel less like far-fetched dreams and more like realistic expectations. Goal setting gives you the power of knowing each next step along the way. It is easier to stay motivated when your thoughts have less room to wander. Having set goals and a plan to achieve those goals creates motivation by preventing your mind from drifting from thing to thing without making strides toward any specific achievement.

What Is MI?

Though originally used to treat SUDs, MI has also been successful in treating other mental health disorders. MI is a type of therapy that uses clinical strategies in order to increase your motivation to achieve your recovery goals.

Some tactics used in MI include reflexive listening, shared decision-making, and elicit change talk. The goal of MI is to give you a positive perspective on your ability to change. Each session can provide you with a nonjudgemental, nonconfrontational, and supportive space for you to understand your resistance to change. This type of therapy focuses on achieving specific goals like sobriety, abstinence, or medication adherence.

Having the right tools to help you stay motivated during your recovery will help you manage your substance use and mental health disorder symptoms. Motivational interviewing can help you find motivational stimuli to achieve your recovery goals. Restoration Recovery Centers believes that being open to change and discovering self-motivation is integral to a successful recovery. Our mental health professionals provide motivational interviewing to generate an optimistic perspective toward change. Being open to change will allow you to gain maximum benefit from our treatment program. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, call Restoration Recovery today at (888) 290-0925 and learn about how we can help you.

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