Stages of Change

Do you ever have those moments when you notice that your life seems to be more difficult than those of your peers but you are not sure why? Or those moments when you know why, but you are not sure you want to change yet? We have ALL been there at some point, with some behavior or another.

Often times, knowing what stage of change we are on, can help us move forward in growth sooner than if we stayed unaware or in denial. When working to prevent relapse, evaluating a stage of change can help in reestablishing motivation and benefits of staying in recovery.

So what are the 5 stages of change?

  1. Precontemplation
    1. The costs of the problem behavior are not yet recognized. The individual is in denial and is not seriously considering changing their behavior. They may have made previous attempts to change, but have since given up.
  2. Contemplation
    1.  The individual is experiencing ambivalence about change. They can see reasons to change their behavior, but they are still hesitant. The problem behavior continues.
  3. Preparation
    1. The individual has decided to change their behavior, and they begin to think about how to do so. During this stage they will begin to make minor changes to support their goal, but they might not have completely ended the unwanted behavior.
  4. Action
    1. Significant steps are taken to end the problem behavior. The individual might be avoiding triggers, reaching out for help, or taking other steps to avoid temptation
  5. Maintenance
    1. The changes made during the action stage or maintained. The individual may continue to face challenges, but at this point they have successfully changed their behavior for a significant period of time. ­

Take some time to see where you are with your recovery story currently.

What stage do you think you are on right now? Why? Do you feel like you have been “stuck” on this stage for a while now, or have you seen growth recently? What has helped you get to this stage, and not be at a previous stage? What might it take for you to move forward to the next stage?

Find a downloadable version of this document on the “Worksheets”section of the site.