Change often feels like a mystery: some times it feels like a breeze, while other times it can be painstakingly difficult. For example, why is it that I can add more healthy foods into my diet or add ten more minutes at the gym but I can’t seem to get rid of my anxiety or elevate my gloomy mood?
Recognizing that change is a complex process, researcher James Prochaska and colleagues (1994) created the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change to help individuals identify where they are at in the process of change.
The first stage of this model is pre-contemplation, when the individual has no intention to change. Even more so, they might not even recognize that something is wrong despite family s, friends, and co-workers noticing that something is wrong. When the individual is forced to change, some change might occur but it will be temporary, at best. The following stage, contemplation, is when the individual recognizes that something is wrong and begins thinking about ways to address the issue. With no concrete commitment made, this phase can often last a while. It is here where we often weigh the pros and cons of changing. Stage three, preparation, occurs when the individual is ready to take imminent action.While some changes may be noticeable, full fledged change is still to come.
Stage four, action, is when what we typically recognize as change starts to occur. In this stage, you might see changes to one’s behaviours and environment lasting from a day to six months which is congruent with the type of change that is desired. The final stage in this model is maintenance and is where people work to maintain the changes that they have made and preventing relapse.
Although this model appears to take a linear progression, it is important to remember that the process of change is not linear. It is not uncommon for people to shuffle forwards and backwards through the stages several times before change occurs.
Remember, while change can be difficult at first and frequently requires persistence, achieving your goals are within your reach. Together we can work to identify where you are at in the process of change and create a plan to help you overcome the obstacles in your way.
Reference: Prochaska, J., DiClemente, C., & Norcross, J. (1994). In search of how people change. American Psychologist, Vol. 47, No. 9, 1102-1114