Informing and advising

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Informing and advising refers to the offering of information or advice. Although MI adopts a client centred approach, this does not mean that offering advice or information to clients is always inappropriate. There are some circumstances where it is certainly appropriate (e.g., if the client requests information). However, MI does not involve dispensing unsolicited information in a directive style. Instead, MI involves [758]:

  • Offering information or advice with permission.
  • When advice is provided, the perspective of the client is explored, particularly in terms of the relevance of the information to them and helping them to reach their own conclusions.

Miller and Rollnick [758] recommend using the ‘elicit-provide-elicit’ approach when exchanging information with a client.


  • Ask permission to give information or advice: ‘May I…?’
  • Clarify the client’s information needs and gaps: ‘What do you know about…?’, ‘Is there any information I can help you with?’


  • Prioritise: what does the client most want/need to know?
  • Be clear: avoid jargon.
  • Support autonomy: do not offer too much information at once; allow the client time to reflect.
  • Do not prescribe the client’s response: acknowledge their freedom to disagree or ignore, present what you know without interpreting its meaning for the client.


  • Ask for the client’s interpretation, understanding, or response: ask open questions, use reflection, allow the client time to process and respond to the information.
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