For the next few weeks, Wellness Wednesday is going to explore the concept of change. Recognizing that things need to change is a key first step towards wellness. Join us over the next month as we dig into change and the barriers that can emerge along the way.
The transtheoretical model of behavior change, created by James O. Prochaska and Carlo Di Clemente and colleagues, is an integrative theory of therapy that assesses an individual's readiness to initiate and follow through with a change in behaviour. This model explains that individuals move through six stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination.
We all go through these stages, sometimes moving back and forth as we tackle internal and external barriers along the way. Obtaining a deeper understanding of these stages can be helpful in assisting our own change or to better understand a loved one’s readiness for change and the patience we will need to hold for them as they work through these stages.
This model applies to any individual working towards a new health and wellness behaviour, whether it be something quite narrow like quitting smoking or a more broad series of lifestyle changes.
Precontemplation. During precontemplation one is deemed not ready for change. They might not even see that movement is personally relevant, important, or realistic.
Contemplation. In this stage, an individual is beginning to recognize that change might be a good idea or necessary, but those thoughts may be fleeting, fairly surface level, or being countered by long standing thoughts and behaviours.
Preparation. During preparation, an individual is starting to take smaller steps towards a larger change or simply to prepare for the initiation of change. This could include something like setting a date to quit smoking or choosing not to put those extra snacks on your next grocery list.
Action. The beginning of a healthy change. The process is no longer a thought exercise or an intention, but an actual choice has been made and change has been formally initiated by that choice.
Maintenance. While we have begun action, it is fairly easy for most of us to get derailed along the way. Maintenance is an active process of actions designed to sustain the behaviour and prevent relapse. In many models, this stage can take six months or more. In rare cases, this process may be a lifelong one.
Termination. Termination reflects the transition from change to habit. Essentially, at this point the new or changed behaviour is reflective of a stable lifestyle or routine. In this stage the temptation to return to one’s old ways has generally passed.
As most readers can likely recognize, many of our past attempts to change have stalled somewhere along this pathway and those we have successfully put in place did not move through the path in a consistently forward direction. Understanding where you are in the process can also assist in determining what steps are necessary to move forward or get back on track. Join us next week as we return to examining change and target one of the common derailments from the very start: Fear of Change.
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Jessica is a member of the clinical wellness and learning support team at FLEX Psychology. Jessica started Wellness Wednesday out of a desire to provide further opportunities for her clients to extend their wellness journey to all avenues of their life. You can learn more about Jessica by clicking here or by learning more about her and the clinical team at FLEX Psychology by clicking here.