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Rhodes Wellness College

How Does Change Happen? The Five Steps of Change

Our life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, but lasting personal change generally happens more slowly. It is great to experience the thrill of a weekend self- development course and disappointing to realize, weeks or months later, that you have gone back to the same old habits. According to research called the “Trans-theoretical Model of Change”, change happens in five fairly predictable stages:

  1. Pre-contemplation:  If you are in this phase, others may comment on your problem behaviour, but you are oblivious about the need to change.  You will deny that a problem even exists.
  2. Contemplation:  During this stage, you will recognize the potential costs of not changing a problem behaviour  (i.e. quitting smoking), but not yet committed to making the change.
  3. Preparation:  You will start making plans to change.  For example, a person with an anxiety disorder may make an appointment with a therapist.
  4. Action:  This is where you will put your plan into action.  For example, a person who needs to lose weight will begin their diet and exercise program.
  5. Maintenance:  In order to change to “stick” you must have a long term plan in place.  If you are attempting to stop problem drinking, you must identify occasions (holidays?) where you are tempted to indulge.

The great news is that with the right kinds of support you can change even compulsive behaviours.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, for example has been proven to be very effective in the treatment of many problem behaviours.  For more information, call us at 604-708-4416.

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