Transtheoretical Model of Change
The Transtheoretical Model of Change (TTM) was created and developed by Prochanska and DiClemente in the late 1970’s. This model was initially created to help understand a person’s process of change while coping with substance use/abuse. However, this model has been shown to be useful in understanding behavioral change in individuals. Thus, this article was designed to help you understand the model and begin learning the application of this model in your personal life and as it relates to your readiness to reduce your anxiety. First things first, so what does this model look like? The model is comprised of five stages: A) Precontemplation; B) Contemplation; C) Preparation; D) Action; and E) Maintenance. Each stage describes a unique point of behavioral change and provides a clear understanding of where an individual is in terms of his/her readiness for change. Also, before I describe each stage, it is imperative for you to understand some relevant facts about the TTM. First, each stage builds on the one before. In other words, in order to be at the preparation stage, a person must first move from Precontemplation to contemplation then into preparation. Second, even though a person may have mastered the first stage (i.e., Precontemplation), it is possible for the person may move to contemplation and then regress to Precontemplation. Third, considering that a person may regress into a previous stage, monitoring of one’s stages of change is imperative to continue moving forward through the model and to achieve the change you desire. Ok, now, let me explain each stage in this model.
Precontemplation: This stage is characterized by a person’s lack of awareness of his/her current problem and often engages in denial when confronted with realities of the problem. For example, a person who is currently experiencing anxiety and has difficulty with procrastination may try to blame others for his/her procrastination or may deny that he/she has a problem with procrastination. A person in Precontemplation may say something like “I don’t have a problem, and if people don’t like it, then that is their problem to deal with and not mine”. Remember, the key point is denial of the problem, and lack of awareness that anxiety is a problem.
Contemplation: This stage describes a process where the person begins to acknowledge the fact that he/she may have a problem but he/she seems ambivalent about change. For example the same person experiencing anxiety which results in procrastination may say, “I know that my procrastination is creating some problems, but I know I can stop it if I want to” or “I really want to stop procrastinating because this is creating a lot of problems” (and yet he/she does not do anything to stop their procrastination).” Thus, the key component of this stage is that the person is becoming aware that their behavior is a problem, but seems ambivalent about changing it.
Preparation: In the third stage, the person begins to create a plan to reduce their anxiety. For example, the person may begin searching online coping skills, seeking information about life-coaching workshops, looking for psychologists or therapists, searching for focus groups about anxiety, etc. So, this stage is all about planning.
Action: The following stage relates to the actual implementation of the plan created during the preparation stage. This means that the person finally enrolls and attends psychotherapy, enrolls and attends HOPE-ZONE anxiety reduction workshops, completes the exercises provided in the workshops, reads about coping skills and uses the coping skills, etc. This stage is about doing what one intends to achieve to engage in change.
Maintenance: Finally, after completing the action state, the person continues to stay motivated and engaged in monitoring his/her progress as well as using effective coping skills and exercises.
In summary, this article was created with the intention to help you understand the Transtheoretical Model of Change (TTM) so that you can begin to conceptualize where you are in your readiness for change. This model describes five stages. Each stage builds on the one before and a person can move back and forth through the stages. This model can be used to understand your readiness for change for any behavior. I hope this was helpful in understanding your readiness for change in a more “tangible” way. Keep in mind that part of engaging in behavior change requires to stay mindful and aware of your current stage of change.