Stages Of Change

The long and busy day was winding down last night I went grasping into the darkness in search of a spark of inspiration for today’s post.  That reach into the unknown at first seemed to produce little but a tired yawn.  Then as I began to see some energy start to flow I knew I was heading in the right direction.  That direction quickly fizzled and there I was just waiting.  Waiting is a really interesting space to be in.  If I am feeling patient, waiting can be enjoyable because I am fully present and in anticipation of something to happen.  If I am impatient then I have let my mind take me to some place other than the now.  Not being in the now is a lot less fun than being in the now.

So the waiting continued and then I saw a diagram in my stack of papers, which always seem to be floating about my desk.  Papers with lots of ideas on them that I like having in reach.  My desk at work is a sea of ideas floating about hoping to find order some day when the treatment program is less busy which may never happen.

That diagram was from a therapy method called Motivational Interviewing.  This graphic illustration of the Stage of Change is something I take for granted because it is in my work but then I realized my readers would benefit from these ideas. 

The Stages of Change include:

Precontemplative - So first we notice things are not working so well and maybe we should consider something different, for example we may find ourselves in trouble with the law or our relationship not working.

Contemplative - Next we move to thinking change is probably needed and maybe we should do something about it.  We are uncomfortable enough to consider assessing how we are and how we got to this place.

Determination/Preparation - Then after change is considered we move into assessing our motivation and making a plan if in fact we are going to do something.  This is often where we might seek the help of a counselor if we find we need help with motivation or we our not satisfied with our plan.

Action – We move into action with a plan and the motivation for change.  From there change can happen because we are doing what it takes.  If things are going well we then move into our changed world.

Maintenance - This is when we are living our changes and feeling how we feel in this new way of being.  Most times it takes focus to maintain our changes.  There can be ups and downs and that is natural.  

Relapse - If we fall back into old behavior that would be called a “relapse”.  Relapse can last for a while or a day or two and than we can move back to action.  In addiction recovery relapse is normal and it can be very difficult sometimes to get back into the change mode. 

This is a simple explanation of the stages of change.  It can be a very helpful model if we are aware of changes that need to be made in our life.  What changes do you want to make in your life.  If you were to assess the stage you are in what would it be?  How would you then move to the next stage?