Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a brief, evidence-based, non-judgemental approach for talking with a person about change. “MI is about arranging conversations so that people talk themselves into change, based on their own values and interests.”
(Miller, W.R. & Rollnick, S., Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change, 2013, p. 4).
Normalize the conversation
“I ask all patients about alcohol use as part of overall health.”
Ask enough open-ended questions to get a clear picture of drinking habits/patterns
“How would you describe your drinking in a typical week?”
“Some people drink to socialize, out of habit, or to reduce stress. What are your reasons for drinking?”
Give advice and reinforce independence
“What you do about your drinking is your decision. My advice is for you to cut down to reduce health risks.”
“It’s up to you to decide what you do about drinking. My advice is to quit drinking during your pregnancy.”
Ask more open-ended questions
“If it’s okay with you, I’d like to ask you some questions about your alcohol use.”
“What are your thoughts about your drinking?”
“What reasons do you have to consider changes in your drinking?”
“What changes, if any, might you consider making?”
Share information with permission
“If it’s alright with you, I’d like to show you Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines and see what you think.”
Help her set a goal (e.g., stay within Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, cut down, or quit).
Ask her about strategies she might use for success (e.g., ask partner/friend for support, avoid certain situations, or manage withdrawal symptoms).
Ask her how she will keep track of her progress (e.g., diary, calendar, an app, or follow-up appointments with you).
Offer educational material to take home (e.g., Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, or Pregnancy & Alcohol: A Doctor’s Advice).
Explore additional services (e.g., counselling, addiction services, or a treatment centre). Provide contact information or make referrals if needed.
*Treatment centres in Saskatchewan prioritize pregnant women.
Invite future discussions about alcohol use.
“You’re not thinking about changing your drinking at this time. If you decide you would like to look at your drinking in the future, you can always talk with me about it.”
“If it’s okay with you, I will check back in with you at your next appointment.”
can help guide your conversations. This brochure advises all women to drink no more than 10 standard drinks/week and no more than 2/day. If your patient is pregnant or might become pregnant, ZERO alcohol is recommended.