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Change: It’s a process (Part 1)

May 17, 2011

We’ve all tried to change something about ourselves – perhaps it’s an addiction to something (e.g., smoking, drugs, video gaming), or simply a behaviour that we no longer wish to have in our lives.

Change happens in stages

The Stages of Change model was first created by James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente in the late 1970’s and early ‘80’s. Initially, they wanted to understand the process that smokers went through as they tried to quit smoking. Today, their model has been applied to almost any behaviour that individuals wish to modify or eliminate from their lives. I use it quite regularly in my counselling practice, particularly when working clients who wish to change addictive behaviours.

In my opinion, a fundamental idea discovered by Prochaska and DiClemente is that change occurs in stages rather than in one simple step. More specifically, they identified five stages that are part of the change process. These stages are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Essentially, you can break it down as follows: First we think about change, then we prepare for change, then we act, and finally, after all is said and done, we maintain change.

In next week’s blog, I’ll describe each of the stages in more detail.

Hoping your week is filled with much knowledge and growth.

(Richard Amaral, Ph.D., is a registered psychologist in private practice. He works with children, youth, adults, and families)

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