Changing for Good is a textbook that we used at Rhodes Wellness College in my life coaching class. It outlines six stages of change. We were taught to meet clients at whatever stage they are at. The stages are:
In the precontemplation stage, people are not yet ready to make a change. They may not even be aware that one is necessary. As a coach, you must be gentle with people in this stage and encourage them to educate themselves on the possibilities of change. However, you must remind them that this is their decision.
In the contemplation stage, people may be thinking of making a change in the next six months. They are thinking about it and are open to learning more about what change would look like. You must reinforce that it is their decision and help them explore the concept in greater detail.
Preparation stage is when people are about to make a change. They are preparing for it. They may even have been making small changes to dip their toes in the water so to speak. You must help people in this stage to find decisional balance. This is when the pros outweigh the cons. You should also encourage potential change makers to tell their friends and family so that they can have support. People are worried about failing here and by helping them get support and have a strong emotional attachment to making the change, you can help them do it.
In the action stage, a person is taking actions to make positive changes. You must encourage them in their efforts and help them to reward their successes, even the smallest of the small. You must also encourage them to be gentle with themselves if they have mild slip ups. You don’t want them to get in a punishment mode. That is detrimental. Be supportive.
In the maintenance phase, a person has made the change and its fairly consistent. They have either stopped smoking for over a year or lost all their weight. (These are just two examples). To help the person in maintenance, you want to keep reminding them of how good their life is now that they’ve made the change and minimize the feelings of loss from making the change. Don’t let them idealize life before the change.
If someone relapses, you should encourage them not to punish themselves. They should pick themselves up and look at the incident. Ask them to be curious about what the triggers were that caused it to happen and help them brainstorm ways to act in the future should those same triggers or different triggers arise.