Professor Stephen Rollnick grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and completed a Masters training in research methods in StrathclydeUniversity in Glasgow (1978) and a professional training in clinical psychology in Cardiff (1983). Since then he has lived and worked in there, as a clinical psychologist in the National Health Service and more recently, as member of the Department of General Practice. His early experience as a trainee nurse in a hospital addiction treatment setting led to an interest in constructive methods for helping people resolve difficult behaviour change problems. This has taken him through a close collaboration with Professor William R Miller on the subject of motivational interviewing, a Doctoral thesis (1993) on counselling for excessive drinkers, to more recent work on consultations about lifestyle and medication use in healthcare practice. Through collaboration with Professor Chris Butler and Dr Paul Kinnersley he is now studying broader communication challenges like the antibiotic consultation, and the development and evaluation of methods for helping undergraduates and qualified practitioners change their communication and consulting behaviour.
Rollnick developed many fundamental concepts of motivational interviewing with Miller in their 1991 book. Rollnick used his experience in the field of addiction treatment to find ways in which healthcare professionals could combat ambivilance regarding change. The technique has since been adopteded by many healthcare professionals in their practice.