The Change Model
It’s important we understand where people come from in relation to making changes to their lifestyle that will improve their health. There is a very well-established model for this called the Stages of Change.
The Stages of Change model describes the different stages we go through when we want to change something in our lives.
Know that people can vary in the stage for different circumstances. For example, a person might be in the Action phase for improvement in their career, can also be in Precontemplation phase for smoking. While the time a person can stay in each stage is variable, the tasks required to move to the next stage are not. Those who practise change often, tend to naturally self-improve in all areas of life. A habit worth pursuing.
It takes conscious effort to keep evolving and challenging yourself, as over time circumstances change. For example, today you may be focused on developing your career – focusing on the behaviours to amplify your success. In 5 years’ time, you become a parent – your previous behaviours such as working away from home might be adjusted to spend time with your newborn.
6 Stages of Change
- Precontemplation – Not Ready
This is the first stage of change. In this stage, people do not have a desire to take action in the near future (within the next 6 months). These people are usually unaware of their behaviours causing problems for their situation. They tend to be oblivious, unwilling to discover or take responsibility for their actions. People in this stage underestimate the benefits of changing their behaviour but rather focus on the negatives of changing behaviour.
2. Contemplation – Getting Ready
In this stage, people aspire to begin the behaviour change in the near future (within the next 6 months). These people have recognised that their behaviour may be troublesome, and are thinking of the benefits of changing the behaviour, along with the negative impact. Even though they have recognised the behaviours as a problem, they may still feel doubtful of changing.
3. Preparation (Determination) – Ready
In this stage, people are ready and keen to take action soon (within the next 30 days). They prepare themselves by making adjustments, usually in small steps, and they believe changing their behaviour can lead to a more fulfilling and healthier life.
In this stage, the behaviour has changed (within the last 6 months) and people make a conscious effort to keep moving forward with the behaviour change.
In this stage, people have for a new habit as they’ve been performing the change for a while (more than 6 months). They maintain the behaviour change moving forward. People in this stage work to prevent relapsing.
In this stage, people are confident in their new behaviour and have no desire to return to their unhealthy behaviours. These people tend to not relapse. Since this uncommon for many, people are most likely to stay in the maintenance stage. You do not see promotional material or marketing for people in these stages.
In order to progress through the stages, people apply different processes: cognitive, affective, and evaluative.
There have been 10 processes of change identified, with some being more relevant to a specific stage of change than others.
The below processes require different strategies that help with making and maintain change.
Cognitive and Affective Experiential Processes
- Consciousness Raising (Get the Facts) – Increasing awareness about the behaviour.
- Dramatic Relief (Pay Attention to Feelings) – Emotional arousal about the behaviour, whether positive or negative.
- Self-Reevaluation (Notice Your Effect on self) – Self re-appraisal to realise the behaviour is part of who they want to be.
- Environmental Re-evaluation (Notice Your Effect on Others) – Social re-appraisal to realise how their unhealthy behaviour affects others.
- Social Liberation (Notice Public Support) – Environmental opportunities that exist to show society is supportive of the behaviour.
- Self-Liberation (Make a Commitment)– Commitment to change behaviour based on the belief that achievement of the behaviour is possible.
- Helping Relationships (Get Support) – Finding supportive relationships that encourage the desired change.
- Counter-Conditioning (Use Substitutes) – replacing poor behaviours and thoughts for healthier behaviours and thoughts.
- Reinforcement Management (Use Rewards) – Rewarding positive behaviour and reducing the rewards that come from negative behaviour.
- Stimulus Control (Manage Your Environment) – Re-engineering the environment to have reminders and cues that support and encourage the new empowering behaviour and remove those that encourage the unhealthy behaviour.
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