The Stages of Change; Post 1

In the 1970’s, James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente developed what is known as the Transtheoretical Model of Change. Sounds big, but it is really a way of understanding how people can change a behaviour or habit and the stages required in order for the change to become structural.

It is a integrative model that looks at how a person’s behavioural, psychological, and social factors play a part in that process. We will begin a series of posts that look at each stage, including how relapse plays a part in the process of change.

The five stages are called Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance. Today we will look at the Pre-contemplation Stage.

When we are in the pre-contemplation stage of change, we tend to be in denial that change needs to happen. We may inherently know that our behaviour isn’t good for us because either society or our loved ones are telling us that, but we tend to justify our behaviours or deny any negative effects. The characteristics of the pre-contemplation stage include:

  • We are either under-informed as to how the behaviour is harmful to us, or we selectively choose what we wish to pay attention to (in other words, we have blinders on.)
  • Perhaps we have tried to change in the past and were unsuccessful, leading us to settle back into denial.
  • Other people will view you as resistant, unmotivated, and unwilling to get help (which let’s face it, we kind of are if we are in the pre-contemplative stage!)
  •  It is still considered a stage of change, because the seeds have been sown. Typically, to be able to move to the contemplation stage, we need to shift inward, to be able to be introspective as to how this behaviour is potentially hurting us. We need to buy into moving towards some type of action.

It is important to note that although the stages are linear in terms of how we move towards change, they are often achieved more as a figure eight; we touch into stages, only to settle back into other ones, we can experience relapses; however, ultimately we can reach a maintenance stage where the change has now moved to being structural.

Tomorrow’s post will be about the contemplation stage of change.

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