The Stages of Change

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Many people come to therapy wanting to change something in their life. Perhaps they are looking to change a certain behavior, for example, they may wish to quit smoking, reduce their intake of alcohol, manage their anger, etc. The key is change and there are 5 stages of change central to changing old behaviors and adopting new habits.
 
1) Precontemplation Stage
Precontemplation is the earliest stage of change. People in precontemplation are either unaware they have a problem or are unwilling to change their behavior. The goal in this change is to assist the person in recognizing there is a problem are there are solutions to the problem. In this stage, some of drinks alcohol to excess is either not aware they drink to excess (denial) or isn’t willing to change. In short, they don’t believe they have a problem.
2) Contemplation StageIn the contemplation stage, the person recognizes that they have a problem and are willing to begin thinking about change and what it would mean for them. They have gone from denying the problem to accepting that change is needed. In this stage, contemplators struggle to understand the problem and the solution to the problem but they do recognize a problem exists. With the person who drinks alcohol to excess, they have gone from denying their alcohol consumption is a problem to contemplating how alcohol has had a negative effect on their life.  They are considering or contemplating what needs to happen to make change.

3) Preparation Stage
In the preparation stage, the person is ready to change in the near future. They are on the verge of taking action. The goal in this stage is to plan how change will occur. The goal is identified and the objectives are developed to help ensure the person is successful in making change.

4)Action Stage
In the action stage of change people most overtly modify their behavior. They stop or reduce the habit or behavior and make the necessary changes to minimize relapse and to maximize success. This is the time the person implements the plan identified in step 

5)Maintenance Stage
Maintenance is the final stage in the process of change. Sustaining behavior can be difficult. In the maintenance stage, the person works to consolidate the gains attained during the action stage and struggles to prevent relapse.