Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


School of Psychology and Social Sciences


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Supervisor

Dr David Ryder

Second Supervisor

Dr Julie Ann Pooley


More people tum to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in an attempt to recover from alcohol dependence than any other intervention. AA has historical links with confrontational approaches to alcohol treatment, and motivational interviewing (MI) was conceived by Miller in the 1980's as an alternative to these confrontational approaches. There are divided opinions on whether AA is confrontational; therefore, the primary aim of this qualitative study was to gain an insight into how the spirit of AA is experienced by its members. Ten members of AA were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. Thematic analysis from a constructionist perspective was utilised in order to interpret the participants' experiences. Six themes were identified: 'direct positive confrontation'; 'negative confrontation'; 'authority'; 'collaboration'; 'evocation'; and 'autonomy'. Overall, AA was experienced by its members as supportive, mentor-based, and collaborative and the themes identified are largely supported Miller's (2009) theory that AA and MI are compatible in tem1s of their 'ways of being' with people. Some elements of a confrontational approach were found, but confrontation in AA was chiefly experienced as accurate, helpful, and supportive. Implications and recommendations for future research are highlighted.