Stages of Change is as model that helps us understand the behaviour change process. It is a systematic approach assisting others and maybe ourselves with behaviour changes. The idea behind the model is that behaviour change does not happen in one step. Rather, people tend to progress through five stages on their way to sustaining long term behavioural changes.
THIS PESKY THING IS RELAPSE!
Relapse is not a stage but rather a common experience throughout the stages of change to recovery. While relapse can be discouraging, the majority of people who successfully quit do not follow a straight path to a life time free from addiction(s). Rather, they cycle through the 5 stages several times before achieving a stable life style change. Consequently, the stages of change model considers relapse to be normal part of the journey.
As anyone progresses through their own Stages of Change, it can be helpful to re-evaluate progress in moving up and down through these stages. (Even in the course of one day, a person can go through several different Stages of Change).
THE STAGES OF CHANGE JOURNEY – A LITTLE MORE DETAIL
“NO, NOT ME.” OR THE PRE-CONTEMPLATION PHASE
People in the Pre-contemplation Phase are not thinking seriously about changing and are not interested in any kind of help. People in this stage tend to defend their current behaviour and do not feel it is a problem. They may be defensive in the face of other people’s efforts to pressure them to quit.
“WELL, MAYBE ME.” OR THE CONTEMPLATION PHASE
In the contemplation stage people are more aware of the personal consequences of their behaviour and they spend time thinking about their problem. In this stage, people are on a teeter-totter, weighing the pros and cons of quitting or modifying their behavior.
“SO, OK. WHAT NOW?” OR THE PREPARATION PHASE
Intent to take action. In the preparation or “determination” stage, people have made a commitment to make a change. Their motivation for changing is reflected by statements such as: “I’ve got to do something about this – this is serious. Something has to change. What can I do?” People are gathering information (sometimes by reading things like this!) about what they will need to do to change their behavior. Or they will call clinics, trying to find out what strategies and resources are available to help them.
“OK. LET’S DO THIS.” OR THE ACTION PHASE
People in the Action Phase believe they have the ability to change their behaviour and are actively involved in taking steps to change their behaviour by using a variety of different techniques. This is the shortest of all the stages.
“IT IS POSSIBLE.” OR THE MAINTENANCE PHASE
Sustained change! People in the Maintenance Phase constantly reformulate the rules of their lives and are acquiring new skills to deal with life and avoid relapse. They are able to anticipate the situations in which a relapse could occur and prepare coping strategies in advance.
THIS PESKY THING IS RELAPSE! Again, a relapse is not a stage but rather a common experience throughout the stages of change.