• Monique Peats

Stages of Change Model

Whether it’s someone you care about, or yourself, one’s readiness for change and self-improvement can help or hinder a wellness journey.

You’ve likely encountered a situation where you or someone else has been resistant to change. This is to be expected, in fact it has been scientifically proven that people do not change behaviors quickly and decisively.

Individuals move through six stages of change and for each stage, different strategies are more effective at moving the person to the next stage of change until eventually they reach the sot after behavior.

The following is a useful psychological model called the ‘Stages of Change’ model, it focuses on going from a lower to a higher level of action and awareness.

The 5 stages of change are

1. Precontemplation - There’s no problem.

In this stage, people do not intend to take action in the foreseeable future (defined as within the next 6 months). People are often unaware that their behaviour is problematic or produces negative consequences. People in this stage often underestimate the pros of changing behavior and place too much emphasis on the cons of changing behaviour.

2. Contemplation - Maybe there’s an issue.

In this stage, people are intending to start the healthy behavior in the foreseeable future (defined as within the next 6 months). People recognize that their behavior may be problematic, and a more thoughtful and practical consideration of the pros and cons of changing the behavior takes place,

with equal emphasis placed on both. Even with this recognition, people may still feel ambivalent toward changing their behavior.

3. Preparation (Determination) - Yes, there is actually an issue and let’s do some research on it.

In this stage, people are ready to take action within the next 30 days. People start to take small steps toward the behavior change, and they believe changing their behavior can lead to a healthier life.

4. Action - I’m taking action to make things better.

In this stage, people have recently changed their behavior (defined as within the last 6 months) and intend to keep moving forward with that behavior change. People may exhibit this by modifying their problem behavior or acquiring new healthy behaviors.

5. Maintenance - I’ve done a course correctly and now just need to keep on track.

In this stage, people have sustained their behavior change for a while (define

d as more than 6 months) and intend to maintain the behavior change going forward. People in this stage work to prevent relapse to earlier stages.

developed by Prochaska & DiClemente.

Which stage most resonate with you or someone you care about? Where are you, or they on the model?

Knowing what stage a person is in can help inform you of your best approach at this time.

Sample Approaches to Initiating Change:

Precontemplation Stage:

  • If someone is in the precontemplation stage, they will probably deny a problem exists so it would be useful to try and raise the awareness of why change is needed.

  • Discuss the risks regarding this person's current behaviour; for example, it’s hurting relationships.

  • Try to get them to consider the possibility of change, yet don’t be discouraged if they resist making a change. It just means that they are not ready yet.

  • I encourage you to keep trying because eventually they may choose to see that there is a need for change.

Contemplation Stage”

  • If someone is in the contemplation stage, it might be best to identify and write out the pros and cons of the existing behaviour.

  • Then weigh the pros and cons of the new behaviour, and identify obstacles to change and the steps to overcome them.

  • This person may be open to changing negative behaviours with enough evidence and encouragement.

Preparation and Action Stage:

  • In the preparation and action stage, it would be good to do some research to see what resources are needed or available and to come up with a plan of action.

  • This person is ready and willing to explore the need to make a change and likely to engage in positive behavioural change.