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The 5 Stages OF Behavioral Change

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Behavioral change is not as straightforward as many people might imagine. Breaking free of your bad habits is not a question of waking up one day, having a light bulb go off in your head and presto you’ve dropped all your bad habits.  Research has discovered that there are five distinct steps to changing your behavior in order to achieve positive, lasting changes in your life.

According to the transtheoretical model, these stages are: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation for action, action, and maintenance. People may oscillate back and forth between the various steps for many months or years before achieving long lasting change in their behavior. This model is frequently used by experts when counselling clients with alcohol or drug addiction problems. Let’s explore these stages in more detail…


1. Precontemplation

In this stage individuals are not aware they have a problem and are actively engaging in risky behaviors such as excessive smoking, drinking, use of drugs, gambling or engaging in unsafe sexual practices. It’s important to keep in mind that people are engaging in these risky behaviors for a reason.

Whether a person is drinking to numb the grief of a broken marriage or snorting cocaine to get high and be accepted by their friends, these behaviors all have one thing in common. They work. In the short term these behaviors provide immediate relief from stress, can make you feel good, accepted and as though your life is problem free. In the long term, they can have devastating consequences, ruin lives and can prove fatal.

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