Motivational interviewing as a supervision strategy in probation: A randomized effectiveness trial

Scott T. Walters, Amanda M. Vader, Norma Nguyen, T. Robert Harris, Jennifer Eells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Motivational interviewing (MI) has been recommended as a supervision style in probation. This project examined the effectiveness of an MI training curriculum on probation officer MI skill and subsequent probationer outcome. Twenty probation officers were randomized to receive MI training, or to a waiting list control, while an additional group of 10 officers served as a supervision-as-usual group; officer outcomes included questionnaires and standardized interactions at baseline, 2 months, and 6 months. A total of 380 probationers were assigned to officers during a 4-month period; offender outcomes included the probability of having a drug-positive urinalysis or an otherwise poor outcome after 6 months. The MI training program improved officer skill as measured by standardized interactions. However, after controlling for baseline characteristics, probationer outcome did not vary by training group, nor did officer MI competence predict outcome. Results are discussed in terms of the role of MI in the overall probation system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-323
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Offender Rehabilitation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Counseling
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Probation
  • Rehabilitation


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