William R. Miller (psychologist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

William Richard Miller (born 1947) is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Miller and Stephen Rollnick are the co-founders of motivational interviewing.[1] He has been listed as one of the world's most highly cited scientists by the Institute for Scientific Information.[2]


Miller received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Oregon in 1976.[3]


Miller is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and affiliated with the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA) at the University of New Mexico (UNM).[4] He joined the UNM faculty in 1976. He has taught a wide range of subjects, including courses on alcoholism and abnormal psychology, and seminars on positive psychology and on self-fulfilling prophecies. His primary scientific interest is in the psychology of change, but his research spans the treatment of addictive behaviors, self-regulation, spirituality and psychology, motivation for change, and pastoral psychology. He has been a visiting scholar at the Oregon Health & Science University, the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, Stanford University, and the University of Bergen and the Hjellestad Clinic in Norway.

Motivational interviewing[edit]

Miller has changed the way clinicians think about the nature of substance use disorders, their treatment and the means to effect change in patients. Early in his career, he emphasized that not all alcohol problems are severe and tested briefer interventions for mid-range problem drinkers. His meta-analysis of the research on treatments of alcohol problems shows a rank ordering of those treatments with the most effective being active and empathic (Motivational Interviewing), while the least effective are passive (films, lectures) or confrontational.[5] He also demonstrated through controlled experiment that confrontation leads to states of resistance and denial, which many in the addiction field attribute to traits of those with addiction. Motivational Interviewing or Motivational Enhancement Therapy avoids creating such resistance by avoiding confrontation and eliciting motivation with open-ended questions and empathy.[6]

Self-help for alcohol abuse[edit]

Miller developed a behavioral self-control training program, successfully testing it with less dependent problem drinkers. A notable finding in this series of studies was that people working on their own using a self-help book were on average as successful in moderating their drinking as those receiving outpatient counseling.


  1. ^ Rubak, Sune; Sandbaek, Annelli; Lauritzen, Torsten; Christensen, Bo (1 April 2005). "Motivational interviewing: a systematic review and meta-analysis". The British Journal of General Practice 55 (513): 305–312. PMC 1463134. PMID 15826439. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ CASAA web site.
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ [3],
  6. ^ [Hester, R. K. & Miller, W. R., eds. Handbook of Alcoholism treatment Approaches: Effective Alternatives 3rd ed.Allyn & Bacon, 2003]