Motivational Interviewing and School Misbehaviour: An evidenced-based approach to working with at-risk adolescents

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

David Mander, PhD,  Edith Cowan University, Mount Lawley, Western Australia



Motivational Interviewing (MI) is presented as an adjunct to existing counselling techniques when working with older adolescent students (e.g., over 12 years of age) at risk of early disengagement with education because of persistent misbehaviour at school. While this paper foremost examines the MI framework outlined by Miller and Rollnick (2013), it begins by describing school misbehaviour and providing a brief overview of the impact that early disengagement with education can have on at-risk adolescents. Existing school-wide approaches to promoting pro-social behaviour are discussed, as are targeted approaches to intervention with at-risk adolescents. Following this an understanding of core MI principles and skills to working effectively with resistance and ambivalence to behaviour change are explored in terms of how these might be applied when counselling older adolescents in secondary schools. Consideration is given to possible challenges and future directions.


Keywords: Motivational Interviewing, secondary schools, student misbehaviour, suspension, exclusion, behaviour change, older adolescents


Address for correspondence:
David Mander, PhD,
Adjunct Senior Lecturer,
Edith Cowan University,
School of Education,
2 Bradford Street,
Mount Lawley, 6050, WA, Australia.
Email: davidm@aquinas.wa.edu.au