Stages of Change Model or the Transtheoretical Model

The Stages of Change Model or Transtheoretical Model is a way of helping clients make sense of the change process occurring when changing their drug and or alcohol use. Prochaska and DiClemente were the first to discuss this model of change. This article may help you when working in this industry and also help you when completing assessment Task 5(b), Module 3.

Change doesn’t just happen, it is a process as outlined in the following diagram.




Pre contemplation stage – This stage the person is not even considering making a change to their drug or alcohol use. They do not see that there is a problem as maybe they have not had any negative experiences due to their drug or alcohol use or maybe they are in denial. For example “I don’t have a problem with how much I drink, it is you who has the problem”

Contemplation Stage – A person may have experienced a crisis or had a negative consequence as a result of the alcohol or drug use and as a result of this it may push them into the next stage – Contemplation. During this stage the person is starting to contemplate about making a change to their drug or alcohol use. For example “Maybe I need to reduce my alcohol consumption as I am spending too much money on this”

Preparation Stage – During this stage the individual starts to prepare and plan to make the change. The individual may ask questions such as “what help/support do I need to make this change”, “How am I going to make this change”, “Am I going to reduce or stop all together”.

Action Stage – This is the stage where the individual acts to make a change. They will act upon the decisions made in the Preparation Stage, for example they may reduce their alcohol intake to no more than 4 standard drinks a day.

Maintenance Stage – At this stage the individual has made the changes and is maintaining their new behaviour. Some people say that this stage is like walking a tightrope that at any moment they can lapse/relapse into their old ways. Some theorists say that you stay in this stage for ever always being vigilant to maintain your new behaviour. Other theorists state that you are in this stage for 12 – 18 months before you can successfully exit and say that you have made the change.

Lapse/Relapse – At any time the person can lapse or relapse into their old behaviours. A Lapse is a thought or a return to their old behaviour but only once, it is a small speed bump in their road to recovery.  For example the person has 8 drinks on one night, but then returns to their decision of no more than 4 drinks a day from then on. A Relapse is a huge speed bump or more like a pot hole in their road to recovery and the person returns to their old behaviours. For example they return to drinking more than 4 drinks every night.

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    Sandra White

    Very interesting and simple to understand:)

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