Mastering Motivational Interviewing for College Students

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a well-established communication and coaching method for effectively engaging adults and youth in risk reduction and behavior change discussions.  Many times young adults are overlooked in MI discussions, yet MI strategies are a perfect fit for the unique needs of college students. 

College students are faced with daily uncertainty across a diverse variety of situations – everything from life-impacting decisions like picking an academic major to simply navigating the online registration process. And just like younger youth – college students have experienced an increase in depression and anxiety over the last year. MI strategies can be utilized to support students across their higher education experience (in and out of the classroom), including student affairs such as health promotion, residence life, student conduct and academic advising – as well as being a fundamental addition to key academic curriculums such as nursing, medicine, social work, and public health.

One of the most commonly used theories in student affairs is Self-Authorship (Baxter-Magolda). Self-authorship acknowledges that while students are in college they begin to become the authors of their own lives. A self-authorship lens requires that higher education professionals support students in their journey to become the authors of their own lives, creating their own set of values and wants. With that, Motivational Interviewing provides a safe space where students can feel heard and supported in their uncertainty and decision-making processes, making steps forward themselves without professionals writing the path for them.

As a higher education scholar and practitioner, I have seen first-hand the benefits of utilizing MI as a tool to support student success. If you are interested in learning more about Motivational Interviewing in higher education and how it may be beneficial to college student development and success, tune into our BOOST webinar on Thursday, June 24th at 3pm or reach out through email at