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Stages of Change in Therapy

Stages of change in therapy

Ed Deci and Richard Ryan have developed a theory on how change happens. The coach can share this theory with the client to help them progress. The stages are:

  • Precontemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance

Let’s look at an example of a person quitting smoking. The precontemplation stage is the time before they have even begun to think about quitting. They then begin to think that maybe it is time to stop and enter the contemplation stage. Perhaps they are beginning to be aware of breathing problems, or others are nagging them to stop, or they are feeling ostracised in company.

The next step is for them to think about how to stop. This is the preparation stage. They may discuss their decision with friends and family and seek information about alternative methods, including perhaps hypnosis, acupuncture, NRT and cold turkey. If they decide on a particular route they may then seek the details, perhaps searching the web for local hypnotherapists.

The action stage is, of course, when they stop. In this example the action takes moments. One moment they are a smoker, the next a non-smoker. The process could be lengthened by cutting-down over a period of time, but the crucial stage for ex-smokers is the maintenance stage.

As a hypnottherapist your clients will often be at a different stage than your usual hypnotherapy clients. Anyone going for hypnotherapy is likely to be at action, or perhaps preparation. Psychotherapy clients could be anywhere, including precontemplation as your work will involve helping them to decide on the changes that they want to make and it will often be the case that they have not even considered a change that becomes apparent during the therapeutic process.

You then have a unique opportunity to use your psychotherapy and hypnotic skills with each stage. This can maximise the effectiveness of each, resulting in easy (or easier!) change and long-lasting effects.

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