The transtheoretical model – Is my loved one ready to change?

What Is the Transtheoretical Model and Why Does Arrow Health Use It?

Change is a process and often there are two steps forward, one step back. When treating addiction, the Transtheoretical Model is based on 6 basic stages of change. In a perfect world, people would move straight through them, one after the other…but humans are far from perfect and it would be unrealistic to expect this! People move forwards and backwards through these stages:

  1. Pre-contemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparation
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance
  6. Relapse

What stage of the Transtheoretical Model is your loved one in and how can you help?

Pre-contemplation stage:

Your loved one may be unaware that their behaviour is problematic and therefore have no intention to change. You may offer support to someone in the Pre-contemplation stage by talking about the impacts of their substance use to in a non-judgmental way and by bringing their awareness to the benefits of change. This may include highlighting the benefits of abstinence to their physical and mental health, as well as their ability to maintain positive personal relationships.

Contemplation stage:

Your loved one or friend has an awareness that a problem exists, and may be considering changing their substance use within the next 6 months. You may offer support by gently exploring the positives of change and indicating how you or others may be able to assist them.

Preparation stage:

An individual who is in the Preparation stage of the Transtheoretical Model is likely making plans to make positive change in the next 30 days. People in this stage may benefit from encouragement and the introduction of recovery resources from their family and friends.

Let them know that they do not have to go through recovery by themselves.

Action stage:

Your loved one is involved in active modification of their behaviour. This stage of the Transtheoretical Model may continue for 6 months after commencing change, and will include implementing a healthier lifestyle that is free from substance use. Activities may include attending 12-step meetings, engaging in treatment programs and seeking counselling. Your loved one will benefit from constant support during this stage. Encourage them by acknowledging how far they have come in their recovery process.

Maintenance stage:

Individuals in the maintenance stage of the Transtheoretical Model have actively changed their behaviour and have maintained a substance-free lifestyle for at least 6 months. Recovery is an ongoing process and your loved one will need support to help deal with the difficulties that they may face when encountering situations without substance use.

Relapse stage:

When major life stressors occur, or if the individual does not continue their daily focus on recovery, the risk of relapse is heightened. An individual in this stage may make repeated attempts to detox and may feel like they have failed in their recovery. You can help your loved one navigate out of this stage by reminding them of how far they have come and that positive change is possible again by seeking further treatment.

Why we use the Transtheoretical Model in treatment

Arrow Health implement the Transtheoretical Model in both assessment and treatment practices. It is important to assess individuals at the beginning of treatment to understand their initial commitment to change. Educational and collaborative workshops are delivered throughout the treatment program to help individuals to understand their own motives for change and how they may find themselves moving back and forth between stages.

Drug and alcohol addiction is frequently accompanied by other problem behaviour that can impact on an individual’s ability to achieve recovery. The benefit of the Transtheoretical model is that is extends more generally to other behaviours that require a committed effort to change, such as such as poor communication skills, unhealthy personal relationships, or other addictive behaviours like gambling.

The staff at Arrow Health help individuals to identify and change these behaviours that may lead to their continued drug use or make it difficult for them to lead healthy lifestyles.

Irrespective of the stage your loved one is at, the staff at Arrow Health are able to help guide them towards positive change. To find out more about our rehabilitation programs, call us today on 03 9533 7888.

  • DiClemente, C. (2007). The Transtheoretical Model of Intentional Behaviour Change. Drugs And Alcohol Today, 7(1), 29-33. doi: 10.1108/17459265200700007
  • DiClemente, C., Nidecker, M. & Bellack, A. (2008). Motivation and the stages of change among individuals with severe mental illness and substance abuse disorders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 34(1), 25-35.
  • Prochaska, J.O., & Di Clemente, C.C (1982). Transtheoretical therapy: Toward a more integrative model of change. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice. 19(3), 276-288.