The Transtheoretical Model AKA The Stages of Change & Why They Matter

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.  With different types of behavior or a change in attitude you can succeed at making  change.

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 behavior 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. They are also great self motivation techniques.

So, what are the Stages of Change?

Stages of Change1. Precontemplation

Understanding the precontemplation definition is key to making the first step for changing your behavior. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Rebellious precontemplators are people who have an investmentment in their negative behaviors and are resistant to listening to others.
  3. Resigned or hopeless precontemplators are those who are so overwhelmed by their problems that they believe they have no power to change.
  4. 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.

Stages of Change2. Contemplation

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.

3. Preparation

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.

4. Action

Action stage definition: 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.

5. Maintenancestages of change, transtheoretical model

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.


The Stages of Change & Why they are so Important #GetMotivated Click To Tweet It takes #courage to let go of the #familiar and embrace the #new... Click To Tweet Are you ready to change? #Habits Click To Tweet

The following two tabs change content below.


Danielle Faith is a graduate of the The University of California, Los Angeles with a Degree in Cultural Geography. She know how your location in life (race, religion, economic status, etc.,) influences how you view the world. Today, Danielle Faith is freelance writer and marketing consultant. She specializes in new media marketing and self-improvement. Not to mention, she has a knack for clarity, and over ten years of experience. Danielle has personal experience with chronic pain and illness. Danielle is a survivor and optimist as well as persistent and driven. When she puts her mind to something it gets done. When she is not writing or checking what’s new on social media, she’s listening to music and relaxing with her dog.

Latest posts by Faith (see all)

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of