The Transtheoretical Model
Whether you know it or not, the Transtheoretical Model is followed when a person wants to adjust his or her behavior. The Transtheoretical Model evaluates an individual’s willingness to change his or her behavior. It offers a plan to guide a person through the stages of change from action to maintenance.
Understanding the Stages of Change Theories
The theory of change encompasses both biological and social influences and can be applied to a variety of human behaviors and environments. The Transtheoretical Model uses Stages of Change as a model of behavior modification. Movement through the stages is liquid and not necessarily linear, allowing individuals to progress or regress through the phases. So, what are the Stages of Change?
Those in the precontemplation stage have not yet acknowledged that they have a negative behavior that needs to be altered and do not plan on making any changes in the near future. Individuals in the precontemplation stage may not know the full consequences of their behavior or perhaps they are discouraged about their capacity to change after many fruitless attempts. They also tend to justify their current adverse behavior and do not believe it is an issue. In fact, they may even become defensive when others mention their conduct. If they are considering change, the potential drawbacks seem to outweigh the benefits, preventing them from modifying their behavior.
The four R’s that stop people from being ready to change are:
- Reluctance to change precontemplators are people who do not have enough insight to want to consider the benefits of change. Those that are reluctant to change do not think there is a problem with their current habits and behaviors.
- Rebellious precontemplators are people who have an investmentment in their negative behaviors and are resistant to listening to others.
- Resigned or hopeless precontemplators are those who are so overwhelmed by their problems that they believe they have no power to change.
- Rationalized precontemplators believe to have all the answers for themselves and have many reasons as to why a negative behavior is not a problem for them, but it is for others. These precontemplators feel justified in their behaviors and actions.
At this point in time, individuals are ready to acknowledge that there is a problem and its consequences, but may be unsure if change is truly the best option. They tend to go back and forth measuring the pros and cons of change, often realizing that the advantages and costs are about equal. This ambivalence can lead to stagnation, causing some to stay in this stage for an extended period of time, called chronic contemplation or behavioral procrastination.
Individuals in the Preparation stage want to make a change. These individuals often intend to take action in the immediate future and would like to commit to altering their behavior. They often start to do research and
form a plan of how they are going to achieve their goals.
The Action stage is when people actually begin changing their behavior. By making clear lifestyle changes, they are trying to take control of their situation. This tends to be the shortest of the stages and also is the point where individuals are most likely to relapse to their previous habits. Therefore, they often are more open to receiving help and support.
At this stage, those who took action are now maintaining their new lifestyle and trying to prevent returning back to their old ways. As time goes on, they are less likely to succumb to temptation and relapse than those in the Action phase by anticipating and preparing for situations that could potentially lead to regression. Even if they do ultimately revert to their previous habits, they are armed with better coping strategies. With some success, they tend to be more confident that they can continue moving forward.
Making a serious change in your life, like overcoming anxiety, an addiction, or losing weight, can seem like an overwhelming process. Without understanding what challenges to expect and what psychological pitfalls may be coming, it is easy to give up or revert back to old behavior. However, following a step-by-step procedure can help you achieve successful long-term change.
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