Many people think the process of change is very black and white. We make a decision. We do it. Right? Well, not exactly. A lot of subtle but big things happen in the gray areas. According to the Transtheoretical Model of Change by Prochaska and Diclemente, there are six phases we all go through. As you are thinking about that New Year’s resolution, consider where you are at in this cycle.
-Pre-contemplation. “Who me?” At this stage, the necessary or desired change we want to make is not even on our radar. We often underestimate the benefits of making such a change in behavior and give too much credit to the negatives. We often are even unable to acknowledge any need for a change.
-Contemplation. “Hmmm. Maybe I do have a problem.” In this phase, we begin to examine the pros and cons a bit more deeply. We may acknowledge a problem exists but lack the motivation or confidence to follow through.
-Preparation. “I’ve got to do something about this.” This is a research stage. We often will read things like this post or other related information to find out how we can be successful.
-Action. “Look at me! I’m doing it!” Here we rely on our own willpower and are actively involved in making the change. When we are in this stage we are very open to suggestions and thrive on additional motivators. This is usually a time of strong motivation and drive!
-Maintenance. “This is just who I am now!” At this stage, we have sustained the behavior change for a while. We often focus on implementing techniques to aid us in avoiding relapse to an earlier stage.
It has been said cigarette smokers often go through this cycle 6 to 7 times before they are successful in staying nicotine-free. Change is not a one-time decision. It is a series of decisions made sequentially. If you are contemplating a change, give yourself kudos! That is progress! You have successfully moved from one phase to another!
Therapy can be extremely beneficial in assisting people with the positive changes they want to make in their lives. Therapists use a technique called Motivational Interviewing which is a specific strategy that focuses on aiding you in moving through these very phases!
If you would like support in changing today, reach out for an appointment. Your mental health matters and so do you!
Debi Anson LMSW LCSW CAADC
Therapy Matters LLC