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Motivational Interviewing: Building Rapport With Clients to Encourage Desirable Behavioral and Lifestyle Changes

Tahan, Hussein A. DNSc, RN; Sminkey, Patrice V. RN

doi: 10.1097/NCM.0b013e318253f029

Purpose/Objective: As professional case managers seek to improve outcomes, including the health status of their clients, it becomes imperative to gather and assess as much relevant information as possible to identify and address the client's needs in a holistic manner. Motivational interviewing is a highly effective technique case managers employ for this purpose. They also rely on it to move their clients toward a course of successful, desirable, and sustainable change, such as healthier diet, exercise, self-care, and adherence to medications regime and follow-up care.

Primary Practice Setting: Across the case management spectrum, including hospitals, accountable care organizations, patient-centered medical homes, physician practices, clinics, and other settings in which case managers work with clients and their support systems.

Findings/Conclusions: Motivational interviewing is a highly effective technique for gathering accurate and comprehensive information that is supportive of and additive to the assessment phase of the case management process. Using motivational interviewing, case managers can more readily uncover health and lifestyle needs of their clients. This results in building trusting relationships and developing rapport with clients, which can motivate them to move toward successful and desirable change.

Implications for Case Management Practice: The design and implementation of a comprehensive and effective case management plan of care is facilitated by motivational interviewing, whereby professional case managers establish collaborative, respectful, trusting and individualized relationships with clients. Using the specific principles and techniques of motivational interviewing, case managers take a holistic approach to care to address a client's willingness and ability to change; addressing self-confidence and other emotional triggers that affect change and support the client's ability to embrace and sustain positive change.

Hussein A. Tahan, DNSc, RN, is the Knowledge Editor of the Commission for Case Manager Certification's Case Management Body of Knowledge®. He is also a well-known researcher in the case management field and currently serves as the Director of Nursing Education and Research at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

Patrice V. Sminkey, RN, is the CEO of the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC), the first and largest nationally accredited organization that certifies case managers. For more information about the CCMC and its Certified Case Manager® (CCM) credential, see the website at

Address correspondence to Patrice V. Sminkey, RN, 15000 Commerce Parkway, Suite C, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054 (

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.