In this session we will consider a transtheoretical approach to understanding and working with change called the Cycle of Change. This approach is based on research conducted by James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente looking at how people ceased smoking.
The cycle of change is in effect a spiral which, on average, people journey around approximately four times before they successfully change their behavior. With each journey around the individual has more information and is likely to grow stronger in their ability not to relapse.
People generally start at the point of pre-contemplation and then work their way around stage by stage. The focus for the practitioner and individual at each stage is to progress to the next stage.
- Pre-Contemplation – There is no intention of changing the behaviour. The person is likely to be in denial.
- Contemplation – There is an awareness that the problem exists but an ambivalence to change at this stage. This ambivalence needs to be amplified and resolved with the person weighing the good and bad of change for themselves.
- Preparation – the person is now ready to start making plans to change.
- Action – the person is now active in creating and undertaking plans to change the behaviour.
- Maintenance – change is sustained with new behaviours replacing the old.
- Relapse – the person falls back into old patterns of behaviour.
- Lapse – there is a temporary slip but not a full return to the old behaviours.
- Change – the point at which the change to the new behaviour is now permanent.
There are nine process which support change. These can be seen to relate to the cycle as follows:
These change processes can be defined as follows:
- Consciousness raising – increasing knowledge about yourself and your problem.
- Social liberation – Aspects from the external environment which support change (e.g. no smoking campaigns).
- Emotional arousal – Increased awareness through push or pull emotional events.
- Self-re-evaluation – A thoughtful and emotional re-appraisal of self and problem.
- Commitment – Acknowledging you are the only one who can do something about the situation.
- Reward – Affirmation of the new desirable behaviour rather than punishment of the old unwanted behaviour.
- Countering – Planning and substituting healthy responses for unhealthy ones.
- Environmental control – Restructuring your personal environment to reduce the likelihood of problem causing events.
- Helping relationships – Care, support and assistance received from others.