Core Motivational Interviewing Skills: OARS

The content on this page can be attributed to Miller & Rollnick, 2013.

One of the fundamental aims of Motivational Interviewing (MI) is to come alongside or “engage” with the person you are interacting with. You have already learned about the Spirit of MI earlier in the resource section of MI on this web site. Using the MI Spirit creates the internal space for the student (and their wisdom) within us to welcome them. OARS are the person-centered guiding skills used to create the external space for the student to share their thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears with us.

The attached materials present some core skills for creating more harmony in the relationship and therefore- facilitating engagement. These core communication skills use a mnemonic acronym OARS:

  • (Asking) Open questions
  • Affirming
  • Reflecting and
  • Summarizing
  • Plus- Giving information and advice with permission

You can download the attached items so that you can lean more details about OARS-Plus and also obtain some useful tools to broaden your vocabulary as you take on this new style of communication.

The “Feelings wheel” could help you broaden your description of feelings during, for example a moment when you are reflecting student’s statements for feeling and meaning. It could also help you to acknowledge where they want to be.

The “Needs wheel” could help you when listening and/or asking a student for what need is not being met when someone complains or demonstrates resistant  behavior in an interaction.

The Campfire Exercise is a fun way to practice reflections or affirmations.

The "OARS-Plus" document expands on all of the OARS core skills and adds giving information and advice with permission.