In the last two posts, we have talked specifically about the change process and about the stages of change identified by James Prochaska and his colleagues through their research. In this post and the next, I will briefly summarize some of the processes of change that can help an individual move through the stages of change.
If we assume that an individual is not thinking about making any type of change in their life, we would assume that they are in the pre-contemplation stage. In order to get them to move into the contemplation stage and to move through the contemplation stage, they need to be willing to find and learn maybe new facts or ideas or see what community resources are available to help them in making a change in their behavior. This may be finding out more information about addiction or resources such as AA. The second process to help people through the pre-contemplation and contemplation stages is the opportunity to talk about and express the emotions and feelings that they have about changing or to express either the positive or negative emotions that go along with engaging in something new and something that produces some anxiety, such as seeking a new job.
As people move into the third stage from the second stage of change, people need to look at themselves and reevaluate who they are and how they will be different and how they will identify themselves if they make the change that they are contemplating. They also need to realize the positive impact that making the change may have on others and on their physical environment, such as getting a new job. Through seeking a new job, they may develop new relationships that are more satisfying in their life and getting a new job may help them to finally get a car that runs. People also need to look at the negative impact of not following through or making the change; e.g., continuing financial problems in the old job, working for someone that they do not respect or with people they do not like.
And last of all, as I have said in the previous posts, a lot of making the change and making a decision to follow through with the change involves believing in one’s ability to change and making a commitment based on those beliefs. This often involves saying out loud to yourself and to others what you are planning on doing and what you are willing to make a commitment to do.
In the next post, we will talk more about the processes of change and those that can help people move from making a decision to actually taking action and maintaining the changes that they have made.
Ron Breazeale, PhD