Perhaps you are new to the idea of seeking counseling to work through the challenges in your life. This section is dedicated to introducing the process of change to someone new to counseling. In the late 1970s, C.C. DiClemente and J.O. Prochaska developed a six-stage model of change that can help you understand your readiness to begin to work through the struggles you may be facing. The six stages of the model include:
Pre-contemplation: In this stage, individuals are not even aware there is a problem. Whether they are “in denial” or simply ignorant that there is an issue, there are various reasons why someone is in the pre-contemplation stage. Some in the pre-contemplation stage may defend their bad habits, and they may become defensive when someone points out their behavior has become a problem. If you are reading this, you are more than likely not in the pre-contemplation stage, as someone who is in this stage does not believe there is a problem that needs counseling.
Contemplation: Individuals in the contemplation stage are open to the possibility that they may have a problem. However, they are not necessarily fully bought into the idea that they need help. They are “on the fence,” and often, individuals in this stage need more information about counseling and why it will benefit them. They may be aware they have a problem, but they cannot commit to making a change. Perhaps you identify the most with this particular stage. If that is the case, we invite you to meet with a counselor to do a risk-reward analysis, identifying the pros and cons of staying the same vs. changing.
Determination. Once an individual reaches this stage of change, they have decided to make a change in their life. They have weighed the pros and cons, and this information has convinced them to seek help for their problems. Individuals in this stage appear to be ready and committed to action. Part of this stage involves making a realistic plan for change, anticipating the potential pitfalls of the process. Often this stage is completed alongside a professional counselor, who will guide them during the planning process.
Action: In this stage of change, individuals begin to take the steps involved in their action plan. People in this stage typically seek support, often in counselors, family members, or support groups. They find it helpful to know someone is cheering them on as they work through their challenges. The length of time spent in this stage varies by the activity but normally takes three to six months to complete. Afterward, the individual hopefully moves into the fifth stage.
Maintenance: This stage is marked by a successful change. In the maintenance stage, individuals must face the test of long-term sustained change. People in this stage are often tested by the temptation to slip back into old behaviors, but in this stage, individuals are armed with a variety of relapse prevention skills. They know where to go when they need support. Individuals who relapse often learn from the relapse. The experience of relapse and returning to wellness often strengthens the person’s will to stay healthy.
Termination: The ultimate goal in the process of change is termination. In this stage, the problem is no longer a temptation, and the individual can proceed with confidence that they can cope without fear of relapse.
Whether you are early in your journey into wellness or somewhere along the way, we invite you to contact us for the help and support that is much needed to successfully change.