How Does Change Come About?

Last night I was exploring with in my workshop/class the stages of change that come from an approach to working with others called Motivational Interviewing (MI). MI has been extensively researched as to its effectiveness and the results are very positive. The results show that MI has a direct application to addiction counseling and other forms of counseling.

I was exploring with my co-investigators areas of their lives in which they are thinking about or taking action to change. They all placed themselves according to this model as to where they were so far in the process.

The following are the stages of change and I encourage you to think about how these stages relate to change you are moving toward.

First Stage: Pre-contemplation is the stage where you are not even considering a change. In this stage you may realize that you are overweight or need to eat healthier but you are not ready to do anything to make that happen.
Second Stage: Contemplation is the stage where you are considering making a change. You might even wonder about the benefits of loosing weight or how it would feel to eat food that would do your body good.
Third Stage: Preparation is the stage where you begin to think about how you will loose weight or eat better. In preparation you may do research on diets or about the best foods to eat or you may surf the Web for a spa that will help you with your goals.
Fourth Stage: Action is the stage where you move into gear and start making things happen. In this stage you set into action your plan to loose weight and you do it by eating less calories, cutting out fat, drink more fluids, working out daily or whatever. In this stage you go to the market with your list of super foods and you buy them and maybe pick up a cookbook that will help you integrate these foods into great meals.
Fifth Stage: Maintenance is the stage where you keep doing what works. If you are loosing weight, you keep doing what you are doing. If you are eating better, you keep eating the foods that make you feel healthy. This new healthy you continues as long as you follow through on your new eating habits.

Sometimes in the process of change you relapse to old behaviors or habits and you have to notice that and then jump back into whatever stage you can to get back on track. Short relapses can go right back to action or maintenance. Longer relapses may need you to return to preparation. Working with addicts and alcoholics is often filled with relapse as part of the journey to recovery. Relapse is not bad and sometimes it gets people more focused on the results they want.

What stage are you in when you think about some changes you would like to make in your life?  If you want to read more about Motivational Interviewing, Google it, there is much information out there and many excellent practitioners.