By Georgia Lavan

With the New Year in full swing, many of us take the opportunity to reflect on the year that has past and implement resolutions for 2018. With this comes change, but how many of us actually follow through with what we intend to work on?

The Transtheoretical Model was developed by Prochaska and Di Clemente in 1977. To many of us, it’s referred to as the stages of change. The model highlights that everyone is in different stages of change when it comes to their behaviour. For one to change their behaviour, they are required to move through each phase in order to achieve change. Time is not measurable in each phase; one person may move through a phase a lot quicker than another. Whilst the model is often implemented for individuals in addiction, it can also be used for anyone who is wanting to shift their behaviour.

Source: Social Work Tech

There are five stages in the cycle of change:

Precontemplation: Many would refer to this as the denial phase, where they are not willing to take action to change, or do not identify their behaviour as being problematic. The behaviour’s benefits outweigh any negative impact that it has on the individual or their loved ones.

Contemplation: This is when the individual is starting to recognise that there is a problem, but are yet to put change into action. Often they will weigh up the pros and cons of what they will get out of changing their behaviour. The consequences of their actions are starting to be recognised.

Preparation: Small steps are being taken to put change into action. The individual recognises that the cons outweigh the pros. The intention for change is there, however, this is the time where one can revert back to their old behaviour as change is “too hard”.

Action: Modifications in behaviour are being made. New, healthy behaviours and skills are being implemented to create change. This is also an opportunity for relapse, as the work required to create change is challenging and requires focus and commitment.

Maintenance: New behaviours have replaced old behaviours and have become part of life for an extended period of time. Temptations are avoided and coping strategies have been learned when triggers are presented in everyday life.

Relapse can occur when one falls back into their old behaviours. This however can be an opportunity to learn what works for the individual with regards to coping strategies. It’s important to know that relapse does not mean failure. It’s an opportunity to identify the strengths and weaknesses of skills learnt and identify any areas to work on.

Which stage of change do you think you are in, with respect to the goals you established for 2018? If you have established goals related to recovery from an eating disorder, improving body image or your health and are feeling stuck, please contact us to find out how we can support you in continuing your goal.

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