• Motivational interviewing;
  • dentistry;
  • undergraduate teaching;
  • teaching for understanding;
  • reflective practice;
  • student-centred teaching


Motivational interviewing (MI) is a client-centred, directive, therapeutic approach that enhances clients' readiness to change by exploring their ambivalence about doing so, thus increasing their motivation to change, and by helping them to commit to the process of change. MI is now being applied to dentistry in the area of oral health e.g. smoking cessation and the prevention of early childhood caries. This aligns dentistry with other healthcare professions in their focus on utilising MI to bring about behavioural change. This paper focuses on how the profession of dentistry would benefit from examining how to integrate MI both in undergraduate teaching and practice. Currently the teaching focus in relation to MI has centred on the theoretical content and less on underlying philosophy. This paper explores how a teaching philosophy, as delivered in the behavioural science programme in the School of Dentistry, University College Cork, Ireland, can provide a framework for teaching MI. Key components within this teaching philosophy are: teaching for understanding, developing reflective practice and student-centred teaching.