5 Stages of Change Model

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  • 0:04 Five Stages of Change Model
  • 0:56 Breakdown of the Stages
  • 4:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde
This lesson goes over the five stages of change model, explaining who created the model, defining each of the five stages, and explaining the sixth stage that may occur.

Five Stages of Change Model

Set up: How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Punchline: One, but the lightbulb has to want to change.

The old joke above refers to the second stage of the five stages of change model, which was created by a pair of researchers interested in treating alcoholics in the 1980s. Carlo C. DiClemente and J. O. Prochaska each had years of experience in helping people stop problem behaviors, and their experience led them to collaborate on a model that explained the natural progression of changing an unwanted behavior. They published their work in 1983 and included the following steps in the model they created:

  1. Pre-contemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Determination
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance

Breakdown of the Stages

The pre-contemplation stage literally means 'before thinking.' People in this stage are not thinking about making any changes to their behaviors and are not yet ready to make any changes. According to the model, these reasons can be summed up in four words starting with the letter 'R': reluctance, rebellion, resignation, and rationalization. These people may not have realized the problem exists, are in denial about it, lack motivation to do anything to change it, or might just be rebelling against anyone else telling them what to do.

The second stage is contemplation, where individuals start to think that maybe they do have a problem and might want to change. The four Rs from the previous stage are still exerting influence over their behaviors, so the problem behavior continues. At this point, they are not really sure they have a problem, but are starting to become open to the possibility. Although this doesn't sound like much, this openness is a crucial part of the change process. This fact is also at the root of the joke that started this lesson off.

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