By: Zanaeya Fitts
The desire to begin a new behavior or quit an old habit can be complicated. Many people believe that setting out to do something within their hearts should align with what their mind and body participate in, but life may not always work out that way. Change typically takes time and follows a certain pattern, and as we move through these stages, we have to meet where we are at. The stages of the change model are as follows:
· Pre-contemplation – The stage an individual is in where change is not recognized, or the situation is not considered a problem.
· Contemplation – A stage an individual is in where the situation is now considered a problem and they are weighing the benefits and cost of change
· Preparation/determination – A stage an individual is in where they have made the decision to make changes
· Action – The stage where an individual takes active steps toward change behavior
· Maintenance – The period of change where the Bx is sustained and maintained
To further highlight the concept, let’s look at building upon the habit of “exercise.” An individual may start off by stating, “my lack of activity is okay. I don’t see a problem with how much I’m moving” (pre-contemplation). They may then visit a medical doctor or speak with a friend who may advise that they engage in some activity, prompting thoughts such as, “I could gain more energy, mental clarity, and sleep better if I were to start some form of activity, but I’m just not sure how yet” (contemplation). After further thought, this individual may consider setting out a goal: “I’m seeing the benefits are outweighing the costs, I’m going to start working out Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 9:00 am for 20 minutes by walking the dog”(preparation/determination). Once this individual sets a goal plan and actively begins to work on it, they enter the action phase. Once the individual has found their rhythm and continues to maintain it, they may start to have thoughts such as, “I have kept up with exercising for five months and have found ways to make an activity a part of my routine,” when they enter the maintenance phase.
As individuals navigate through each stage, it may be challenging to identify the barrier they are experiencing in solidifying change behavior. Working with a therapist can be helpful at each step as therapy is a collaborative experience in highlighting strengths, building skills, identifying challenges, and setting goals.
DiClemente, C. C., Prochaska, J. O., Fairhurst, S. K., Velicer, W. F., Velasquez, M. M., & Rossi, J. S. (1991). The process of smoking cessation: An analysis of pre contemplation, contemplation, and preparation stages of change. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59(2), 295–304.