Stages of Change Model

The Stages of change model has been useful for me in my domestic violence groups over the years to give folks a model for what they are being asked to do.

Most of my clients arrive angry and resentful about what they see as the intrusion of the police and criminal justice system into their life, and as a result, they are typically not open to hearing any information about power and control issues or egilatarian relationships with women.

The bitterness and anger can be handled by trust building exercises and introductions, where the group facilitator and more veteran group members share their experiences and then the new client will speak about their current emotional and legal circumstances.

Often, once the clients have heard the stories of the facilitator and other group members, they soothe significantly because it becomes more obvious that they will not be made the center of attention, however they are still early in the stages of change model, which we will introduce tangentially and frequently, usually through the insights of the veteran group members.

But a little background on the stages of change model, from Marc Kern at (link below).

"The Stages of Change Model was originally developed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s by James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente at the University of Rhode Island when they were studying how smokers were able to give up their habits or addiction.

The SCM model has been applied to a broad range of behaviors including weight loss, injury prevention, overcoming alcohol, and drug problems among others.

The idea behind the SCM is that behavior change does not happen in one step. Rather, people tend to progress through different stages on their way to successful change. Also, each of us progresses through the stages at our own rate.

So expecting behavior change by simply telling someone, for example, who is still in the "pre-contemplation" stage that he or she must go to a certain number of AA meetings in a certain time period is rather naive (and perhaps counterproductive) because they are not ready to change.

Each person must decide for himself or herself when a stage is completed and when it is time to move on to the next stage. Moreover, this decision must come from the inside you (see developing an internal locus of control) -- stable, long term change cannot be externally imposed.

In each of the stages, a person has to grapple with a different set of issues and tasks that relate to changing behavior."

Marc Kern-Stages of Change Model

The stages of change are:


Precontemplation (Not yet acknowledging that there is a problem behavior that needs to be changed) *

Contemplation (Acknowledging that there is a problem but not yet ready or sure of wanting to make a change) *

Preparation/Determination (Getting ready to change) *

Action/Willpower (Changing behavior) *

Maintenance (Maintaining the behavior change) and *

Relapse (Returning to older behaviors and abandoning the new changes)

Stages of Change and Dilemma

We are going to operate from an "awareness gives one the opportunity of choice" model, and each time a client demonstrates a new insight, we will acknowledge and praise it, and refer back to the stages of change model.

Often the client will be surprised by either the facilitators or a fellow clients comment, and as a result, is pleased with themselves.

So we are not teaching just stages of change, but pointing out to them their progress, and implicitly encouraging them to continue their movement through the stages.

The most useful tool for encouraging that movement in my domestic violence groups is their dreams for their daughters and sons, but especially daughters.

The men know that their daughters will be drawn to someone like dear old dad, and if they are a power and control guy, they know that will lead to unhappiness for their children.

We have presented them with a difficult dilemma to encourage movement through the stages of change. Their belief system about power and control vs the future happiness of their children. The usefulness of the stages of change model for us is as a reference point for what is going on.

We frame participation as growth, as movement through the stages, perhaps in spite of themselves, and we have discovered that frequently the men who come to us have never been given a certificate for anything, so categorizing their work as positive and growthful is very important.

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Would You Share Something That You Are Grateful For?

When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.

Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.

Have a question and want to talk with a therapist? Call 815-316-2621 for Julie Logan, LCSW, RN. 7121 Windsor Lake Parkway, Loves Park, Illinois 61111

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