Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 481–498

Preparing Clients for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Randomized Pilot Study of Motivational Interviewing for Anxiety

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10608-006-9016-y

Cite this article as:
Westra, H.A. & Dozois, D.J.A. Cogn Ther Res (2006) 30: 481. doi:10.1007/s10608-006-9016-y


Although CBT is a well-supported treatment for anxiety, recovery rates and compliance with treatment procedures are less than optimal. Using adjunctive brief preparatory interventions may help bolster response rates and engagement with therapy procedures. Motivational Interviewing (MI: Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (1991, 2002). Motivational interviewing: preparing people to change addictive behavior. New York: Guilford) is a client-centered, directive method for enhancing motivation for change and has been demonstrated to be a valuable treatment prelude in the addictions domain. Prior to group cognitive behavioral therapy, 55 individuals with a principal anxiety diagnosis (45% panic disorder, 31% social phobia, and 24% generalized anxiety disorder) were randomly assigned to receive either three sessions of MI adapted for anxiety or no pretreatment (NPT). The MI pretreatment group, compared to NPT, showed significantly higher expectancy for anxiety control and greater homework compliance in CBT. Although both groups demonstrated clinically significant anxiety symptom improvements, the MI pretreatment group had a significantly higher number of CBT responders compared to NPT. At 6-month follow-up, both groups evidenced maintenance of gains. These results provide suggestive evidence that brief pretreatments, such as MI, may enhance engagement with and outcome from CBT. The promising results also justify the future investigation of these effects using more powerful designs which may discern whether the effects are specific to MI or to some type of pretreatment.


Motivational interviewing Motivation Preparation for therapy Pretreatment Anxiety 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.University of Western OntarioTorontoCanada