Skip to main content
USQ Logo
The current and official versions of the course specifications are available on the web at
Please consult the web for updates that may occur during the year.

PSY5020 Motivational Interviewing

Semester 1, 2019 Online
Short Description: Motivational Interviewing
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Psychology and Counselling
Student contribution band : Band 1
ASCED code : 090701 - Psychology
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Tanya Donovan


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: GCAD or GDCN or GCCO or MCCO or MPPS


Motivational interviewing is recognised as one of the most effective approaches to intervention with substance-using populations. Developed by Miller and Rollnick (2013) in the 1970s and ‘80s, it has evolved from its origins in addiction treatment to be widely applied in the helping professions, and with health behaviour in particular. The motivational interviewing approach incorporates a guiding communication style and client-centred techniques, which are designed to encourage resolution of ambivalence in order to facilitate behaviour change. As an orientation towards clients and as a practical method, motivational interviewing is a core skill for working with substance-using populations.


This course is divided into three parts. The first part concerns foundation principles of motivational interviewing, and includes exploring the underlying spirit of motivational interviewing and core counselling skills required, such as using open questions and reflections. The second part of the course focuses on the four processes in the `dance' of motivational interviewing, in which you engage the client, find a direction for your work together, evoke reasons for change, and then move into planning. An important aspect of motivational interviewing is responding to client talk of not changing their behaviour, known as `sustain talk'. The final aspect of the course pertains to ethics and culture, both of which are either mandated or recommended aspects of training in the health professions. The knowledge components of the course are provided in a structured 10-module format, while the skills component is completed on an ongoing basis, leading up to submission of the assessable skills demonstration task at the end of semester.


On completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. demonstrate ‘the spirit of motivational interviewing’;
  2. demonstrate knowledge of ambivalence and ‘sustain talk' as expected elements in the change process;
  3. demonstrate the core counselling skills of motivational interviewing: asking open questions, affirming the client, reflecting and summarising;
  4. demonstrate knowledge of the four processes of motivational interviewing;
  5. demonstrate ability to complete a motivational interview counselling intervention with a client;
  6. reflect on their performance in adhering to the motivational interview framework and identify areas for improvement;
  7. consider ethical and cultural issues in the application of motivational interviewing.


Description Weighting(%)
1. What is motivational interviewing? 5.00
2. The spirit of motivational interviewing 10.00
3. Core skills of motivational interviewing 10.00
4. The processes of motivational interviewing part one: engaging 10.00
5. The processes of motivational interviewing part two: focusing 10.00
6. The processes of motivational interviewing part three: evoking 10.00
7. The processes of motivational interviewing part four: planning 10.00
8. Supporting change: when it all doesn’t go to ‘plan’ 15.00
9. Motivational interviewing in everyday practice 10.00
10. Ethics and culture in motivational interviewing 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Miller, WR & Rollnick, S 2013, Motivational interviewing: helping people change, 3rd edn, Guildford Press, New York, NY.
Other resources and readings will be supplied via the course home page.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 30.00
Directed Study 62.00
Private Study 78.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
Motivational vid & critique 100 60 05 Jun 2019
Online Quiz 1 20 5 12 Jun 2019 (see note 1)
Online Quiz 2 20 10 12 Jun 2019
Online Quiz 3 20 10 12 Jun 2019
Online Quiz 4 20 10 12 Jun 2019
Online Quiz 5 20 5 12 Jun 2019

  1. On-line quizzes will be released on the course home page and can be completed at any time during the semester. Students may attempt each quiz twice, using all the readings and resources available, and their recorded marks will be the highest marks achieved for each quiz on the last day of the last teaching week of the semester. See assessment section of the Introductory Book for further details and the grading rationale.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is students' responsibility to participate appropriately in all activities scheduled for them (such as Study Book activities and practical work), and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    Students do not have to satisfactorily complete each of the assessment items to be awarded a passing grade in the course. Refer to Statement 4 below for the requirements to receive a passing grade in this course.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course. The term ‘weighted’ refers to assessment items that contribute to the calculation of the final grade for a course, i.e., have a non-zero weighting.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (or grades) obtained for each of the summative assessment items.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. Students may be required to provide a copy of assignments submitted for assessment purposes. Such copies should be despatched to the USQ within 24 hours of receipt of a request to do so.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within five days if required by the Course Examiner.

  3. The Course Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  5. Students will require access to email and internet access to USQConnect for this course. The onus is on students to ensure internet access is of sufficient speed and quality to accommodate the on-line quizzes. Reliable access to the internet is a requirement of this course as the course contains electronic assessment and submission elements. In order to avoid internet issues, on-campus students should attempt the quizzes in the student computer laboratories. External students who knowingly do not have reliable access to the internet should actively seek alternative internet access (e.g., Internet cafes, local libraries, or work places) for assessment submission and electronic assessment attempts. External students are able to use the on-campus student computer laboratories once access has been enabled. To be granted access, external students need to contact ICT and ask to have a student account enabled so that they can work on-campus.

  6. This course does not have a Residential School.