Dr JC Coetzee Clinical Psychologist in Ponsonby & Parnell, Auckland Book Sessions

Understanding the Stages of Change

Clinical Psychologist, Auckland, Ponsonby & Parnell
Substance Recovery Auckland PSychologist

The Stages of Change, also known as the Transtheoretical Model (TTM), is a theoretical framework developed by psychologists James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente. It describes the process individuals go through when making behavioural changes. The model outlines five stages:

  1. Precontemplation: In this stage, individuals are not yet considering a change. They may be unaware of the need for change or may resist the idea. They may lack information about the consequences of their behavior or feel demoralised about the possibility of change.

  2. Contemplation: During the contemplation stage, individuals start to recognize the need for change. They become more aware of the pros and cons of their current behavior and begin to consider the possibility of making a change in the near future. However, they may still feel ambivalent and may not be committed to taking action.

  3. Preparation (or Determination): Individuals in the preparation stage are getting ready to take action. They have made a commitment to change and are planning specific steps to implement the change. This may involve setting goals, seeking support, and making concrete plans.

  4. Action: The action stage involves actively modifying behavior, experiences, or the environment to bring about change. Individuals in this stage are putting their plans into action. This stage requires effort, time, and energy to overcome challenges and make lasting changes.

  5. Maintenance: Maintenance involves sustaining the new behavior over time. Individuals in this stage work to prevent relapse and consolidate the gains made during the action stage. They integrate the new behavior into their routine and lifestyle to ensure long-term success.

In addition to these five stages, the model also includes the stage of relapse:

  1. Relapse: Relapse is the return to old behaviours after a period of successful change. It's important to recognise relapse as a common part of the change process. Individuals may cycle back through the stages multiple times before achieving long-term change.

It's important to note that the Stages of Change are not always linear, and individuals may move back and forth between stages. The model recognises that change is a process that takes time and effort, and relapses are considered a natural part of the journey toward lasting behavioural change. The Stages of Change model is commonly used in various fields, including psychology, health promotion, and addiction treatment, to guide interventions and support individuals in making positive changes.