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The Stages of Change approach is something I consider with each client by asking where they are in their readiness to change and then asking what it would take to help move them closer to the next stage. 

Stages of Change

The Stages of Change Model is part of a larger model known as the Transtheoretical Model of Change developed by Prochaska & DiClemente in the 1980s. Through their research, they defined 6-7 stages people go through when trying to make a behavioral change and even though the changes sort of happen in order, at any point in the process you can move backwards or forwards or skip a stage.

The Stages  are:

  1. Precontemplation:  Unaware there is a problem, ambivalence, fluctuation, denial, Limited possibility for positive change until awareness is raised and you move to next stage

  2. Contemplation: Often starts with dissatisfaction with the current situation (triggered by an event, pressure from others, or known potential for problems if nothing changes); in this stage you start reflecting on and diagnosing the current situation and you start getting motivated about the need to change

  3. Preparation: Preparing a change strategy and asking questions; Can I do this? How will this affect others? What are the positive and negative side effects of the change? What strengths can you use? what support do you have? Use S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting to plan change.

  4. Action: Putting your plan into action and walking the talk. Who is on your team? Who is championing you? Who will celebrate with you? You are excited as you anticipate the results you get by carrying out your strategy.

  5. Maintenance: You are continuing to carry out the new behavior which includes evaluating the effects and adjusting the strategy if necessary. How are things working? What have you achieved so far? What do you need to do more of and less of? What have you learned so far?

  6. Recycling: The Spring-Back (OCCURS FREQUENTLY), It is when you go back to the old behavior, attitude, or belief which may be triggered by stressors. This is an opportunity for you to recycle through the stages again and to reflect & learn from your experience. What did work in your strategy? What did you learn and appreciate about yourself?  KEEP GOING!

  7. Termination: Can occur in some instances when the behavior change is completely integrated; ultimate goal

There are also several change processes: consciousness-raising, social liberation, emotional arousal, self-reevaluation, commitment, countering, environment control, reward  

Use the ruler below to determine on a scale of 1-10 how ready you are for change when you think about the questions at the right.

  • What changes are you considering?

  • How important is it that you make this change?

  • How confident are you that you can make this change?

  • How ready are you to make this change?

From: Prochaska, J.O., Norcross, J.C. & DiClemente, C.C. (2007) Changing fo Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward (Reprint edition, 1994) Quill: Bowie, MD.

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