Do You Really Want To Change?

Kris J. Snyder, MBA, MFT, CPT

Do You Really Want To Change?

The sole knowledge of healthy nutrition and regular physical activity are considered necessary protective factors in health promotion and risk prevention of chronic disease. (Ceccarini, Borrello, Pietrabissa, Manzoni, and Castelnuovo, 2015). However, for those who consistently struggle to lose and the maintain their weight loss, understands that sole knowledge on these issues are not enough. Weight control may be as problematic as smoking or drug use cessation since they all share the commonality of being highly difficult to change (Ceccarini, et. al., 2015). These same authors advise it is highly recommended to promptly assess motivation and readiness to change in clients who wish to achieve significant lifestyle behavior changes to improve overall quality of life and well-being (2015).  One avenue I focus on in my coaching experience is motivational interviewing (MI). Miller and Rollnick describe MI as a collaborative conversation style for strengthening a persons own motivation and commitment to change (2013). Simply MI is used to help the individual get off the fence to start moving towards their goals.

Now that it is approaching mid July, the research demonstrates most have broken their New Year’s resolutions. Research also demonstrates there are a host of negative consequences associated with failed goals. For example, Koestner reports when someone fails at reaching their New Year’s resolution, a negative affect or host of negative thoughts result along with issues connected with lowered self-esteem (2008). In upcoming posts I will address the negative consequences associated with failed goals and how it can damage the psyche.

Today’s post will focus on Prochaska’s and DiClemente’s model of change known as the transtheoretical model of behavior (TTM) or the stages of change. The TTM consists of five stages and is commonly related to any health behavior. This is not a linear model and it is common that a person will experience moving in and out of various stages along their journey. *It is key to note that just because someone establishes a goal and stresses that they want to change, does not mean they are necessarily ready to change.

5 stages of change (TTM)

Pre-Contemplation Stage: A person in this stage has no desire to change. When someone is the pre-contemplation stage, options and motivation is limited. If they are willing to listen, we can try to provide helpful information.

Contemplation Stage: A person in contemplation stage is at least considering making a change. They are not fully ready, however, they are open to receiving cues on how to take action. A person could remain in the contemplation stage from anywhere from 6 to 12 months. When coaching a client in this stage, motivational interviewing (MI) may help move the person off the fence.

Preparation Stage: When a person is in the preparation stage, he/she has begun moving forward towards the desired goal. They are inconsistent, however, they are getting closer to the Action Stage. Again, coaching using the tools of motivational interviewing and solution focused coaching can aid the client with moving into the Action Stage of change.

Action Stage: The person in the action stage is now taking regular steps toward reaching their goal for less than six months.  Consistent skill building is key in this stage. Solution focused coaching helps the client begin to identify and understand the power of utilizing their strengths. My role as the behavior coach focuses on providing education and support, as well preparing the client about potential barriers and high-risk situations. The key is focusing on relapse prevention!

Maintenance: The final stage is characterized by regular involvement over a six-month period.

Yes, there is evidence that demonstrates not reaching your goals can affect you negatively. When setting goals, it is imperative to understand your level of readiness to change and have the assistance of a coach and a support team to assist you with locating the appropriate resources to move towards and remain in the maintenance stage. Also remember the stages of change is a non-linear model.  Just because a person is doing well in the maintenance stage, issues such as boredom and stress can arise at anytime and serve as barriers to change.

For this exercise go back and recall what your New Year’s resolutions were. If you find yourself stuck or on the fence about moving forward, MI contains tools that a qualified coach can assist you with. Here are five questions Miller and Rollnick developed. Review or have someone ask you these questions to generate some feedback in order to reestablishing your goals if they are important to you.

Why would you want to make this change?

How might you go about it in order to succeed?

What are the three best reasons for you to do it?

How important is it for you to make this change and why?

And Finally,

So what do you think you will do?

These questions or this post does not reflect any theory or guidelines, however they are just an example of how those trained in MI will allow their client to experience feeling engaged, empowered, comfortable, respected and understood in the change process.  As a coach, I understand as Miller and Rollnick expresses, people are more likely to be persuaded by what they hear themselves say when answering these questions.

If you have any questions let me know.

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Koestner, R., Lekes, N., Powers, T.A., & Chicoine, E.(2002). Attaining personal goals: self-concordance plus implementation intentions equal success.  Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 83(1), 231-244. Doi:10.1037/0022-3514.83.1.231

Mann, T., de Ridder, D., & Fujita, K. (2013). Self-regulation of health behavior: Social psychological approaches to goal setting and goal striving.  Health Psychology, 32(5), 487-498. Doi:1037/a0028533

Miller, W. R, & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational interviewing: Helping people change. New York ,NY Guilford Press.

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