The applicability of motivational interviewing among people with mild to borderline intellectual disability; a self-determination theory perspective

Friday, November 1, 2013
First author:
Noud Frielink
Reciprocity & Friendship I

1 Department Tranzo, Tilburg University, Tilburg, the Netherlands

2 Dichterbij Kennisn@, Ottersum, the Netherlands

3 Department Medical and Clinical Psychology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, the Netherlands

4 Faculty of Health and Social Studies, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

5 Clinical Child and Family Studies, VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

All authors:

Noud Frielink 1,2, Petri J.C.M. Embregts 1,2,3,4, Carlo Schuengel 5

Motivational interviewing Self-determination theory People with mild to borderline intellectual disability


A promising method to increase participation and engagement of people with mild to borderline intellectual disabilities (MBID) in their treatment and care is motivational interviewing (MI). Deploying MI can address the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness, which are essential aspects in both self-determination theory and professional loving care. Social environments (e.g., professionals) can either satisfy or frustrate these needs; supportive social environments that allow need satisfaction should predict autonomous motivation and increased participation and engagement in treatment and care. Autonomy, competence and relatedness are important components in treatment and care and professionals should attempt to satisfy these needs from a professional loving care perspective. However, as far as we know, the need satisfaction among people with MBID has not been subject to research yet. The present study’s purpose therefore to identify how professionals could adapt MI techniques and to evaluate need satisfaction.


We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews and focus groups with 26 clients, parents and professionals to identify adaptations of MI-techniques. To evaluate need satisfaction, 100 adults with MBID were recruited from care organizations in the Netherlands and completed an adapted version of the New Basic Psychological Needs Scale.


Recommended modifications to accommodate MI are: adapt to language level, adjust to cognitive abilities and control for social desirability of responding. In addition, certain characteristics of professionals are critical for effective MI. Data collection regarding need satisfaction will take place from May until December 2013. During the presentation preliminary results will be presented.


The research is not finished yet, so it’s too soon for conclusions.