1. Pre-Contemplation - Denial: "I don't have a problem." Here the individual is unable to admit there is a problem and is not ready for change.
2. Contemplation: “Yes, I may have a problem but I don’t want to do anything about it. “
3. Preparation: “Yes, I have a problem and I am ready to make some changes.”
4. Action: Making changes - The individual works on change.
5. Maintenance: Maintaining the changes. This takes effort and attention so the individual will not relapse into the problem behavior.
If I am seeing an individual who has a partner or loved one who has a problem that is affecting the relationship, I teach the stages of change. The individual is then able to understand why their loved one may be so reluctant to make changes.
Yes, it is true, if we push someone to make changes and that individual is not ready to make changes all will be frustrated. This is why we back away from loved ones who aren’t asking for our help. We need to take care of ourselves, when our loved one is not ready to make the needed changes.
John was consuming so much alcohol that he was irritable and unapproachable by 8:00pm overnight. His children knew not to talk to him at night. His wife had to wake him to go to bed after he passed out on the couch, nightly. CeCe, hi wife, was pressuring John to quit drinking. John was in the pre-contemplation stage, denial. “I do not have a problem. Stop nagging me!” John would yell at his wife.
In therapy, CeCe told me about John’s drinking. I explained the stages of change and she was able to see that John was not ready to make changes. We talked about taking care of herself and not focusing on John. She decided if he didn’t see his problem soon it would be a deal breaker for her.
When Vic came to my office he was struggling with a porn addiction. He stated he was so tired of being a slave to his addiction that it was affecting his work, and his relationship with his wife. He told me he was so ashamed of himself for not being able to kick the addiction. I guessed Vic was in the Preparation stage and when I explained the stages to him he agreed. He admitted he had a big problem and was ready to make changes. Vic was able to work towards health at a good pace because he and I both agreed he was ready and worked on taking action, making the changes he needed to. Vic was able to get into recovery for his addiction and continued to meet with me while in the Maintenance stage, maintaining the changes.
Over the years I have been practicing I have found the Stages of Change helpful in my personal and professional life. I am always hopeful that I'll be able to assist in people working through the stages and making positive changes! If you'd like support to make the changes contact me.