Stages of Change Model - Prochaska et al's Changing for Good

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Summary of Changing for Good  by Prochaska, Norcross & DeClemente

What are the 5 stages of change in Prochaska's metatheory?

Why New Years Resolutions don't  work

How to move on to the next stage of change (i.e from pre-contemplation to contemplation, then to preparation, action, maintenance and termination)


How to Recognise it

How to Move on

1. Pre-Contemplation Resisting change

1) Avoiding the subject

2) Being ill-informed about it

3) Not taking responsibility for it

4) Presences of defence mechanisms e.g.

denial (I haven’t got a problem)

rationalisation (making excuses)

intellectualisation (avoids engaging with problem emotionally)

projection (say others have got your problem)

displacement (blame other people)

1) Think about the subject

2) Become well-informed

3) Take responsibility

4) Become aware of your defences

Changing defences into coping

Concentrate on problem

Proper logical analysis


Sublimation - Take out feelings through sport, exercise, not on other people

Be responsible (see 3 above)

2. Contemplation Change on the horizon

Seriously thinking about doing something

May procrastinate about change

May insist on the perfect solution before acting

Get emotional arousal –e.g. seek out films that deal with your problem.

Vividly imagine your problem and the bad effects it has

Make the decision using a rational decision-making process

e.g. pros and cons, Progress

3. Preparation

Getting ready

You have decided on action, and are making the steps necessary to prepare you for action

Commit to change – make it a priority

Counter anxiety by taking small steps, setting a time frame, telling people about your decision & making an action plan

4. Action

Time to move

You are taking the steps required to change

e.g. stop smoking, stop drinking

Find healthy responses to cope with the benefits of the problem (e.g. if smoking reduced anxiety, find other ways to reduce the anxiety)

Exercise and relax

Control your environment e.g. remove cigarettes, avoid your drinking pals, don’t go past the cake shop, use ‘to do list’ and other reminders

Reward yourself

Get others to help you (e.g. bet them you can change)

5.Maintenance staying there

After several months you enter this stage

Look out for social pressures, internal challenges and special situations

Review a list of negative aspects of problem regularly

Avoid people and places that can compromise your change

Make a crisis card to help you deal with occasions when you are tempted

6.Termination (if no relapse)


Recycling – learning from relapse

You have a new self-image, no temptation in any new situation and self-efficacy

You relapse


See it as taking one step back to take two steps forward

Learn the lessons of relapse

  • most people need more than one attempt,

  • budget more time, energy and money

  • be prepared for complications

  • be aware that small decisions lead to big ones

  • be aware that distress precipitates relapse

Keywords: Prochaska, Changing for Good. stages of change model, CBT, Resilience, Therapy in Londn



Recommended book:

Changing for Good : A revolutionary 6 stage program for overcoming bad habits and moving your life positively forward 

Prochaska, Norcross & DiClemente (William Morrow and Co. Inc, 1992)

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