Health Behavior: The transtheoretical model of behavior change

Working in wellness is tricky because there is no one way to teach health and raise awareness. There are models that we use to help guide us, and every day is a constant challenge for us to figure out how we can influence behavior. In health psychology, particularly, there are various models that we make use of. Today I’d like to introduce you to the transtheoretical model of behavior change. The model attempts to explain health behavior through a process wherein change is not seen as a single event. 

The process includes five (5) stages – (1) pre-contemplation, (2) contemplation, (3) preparation, (4) action, and (5) maintenance. Essentially, this is what it could also look like:

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When trying to influence and change behavior, everything begins before the individual even considers thinking about it. This is what we call the pre-contemplation stage - an individual may be aware of this particular need but has no intention to act on it for the next 6 months. In this stage we think about all kinds of marketing material, witty lines, and scare tactics that will help them even consider our proposition. 

Contemplation is where the individual may begin to consider changes and eases her/his way into preparation where some small changes in behavior have already taken place. Basically, this stage tells you that all your promo material and tactics worked because they’re now curious. It i important, however, to continue educating your market as well as helping them become aware for proper preparation. 

Finally, the action stage takes place when a behavior has finally been adopted and continued for about 6 months and carries into the stage of maintenance, wherein the goal is to continue newly acquired behaviors. Only after a habit has been formed can it be said to be a lasting lifestyle change. This model proposes that for any real change to happen, the individual needs to have been on their program for at least 6 months. 

What are some lifestyle changes you’ve been wanting to make in your life? And what has influenced you to do so? What stage of the process do you think you are in right now? And what will it take for you to achieve your goal?