By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy
As one year closes and another begins, it is natural to think of what we hope the journey ahead entails. Certainly, New Year’s resolutions can be guide posts to help us stay on track towards big goals. But often, we tend to think of progress as a linear path. While it would be nice if success was merely finding our way from point A to point B, that is rarely how success looks for most of us.
Stages of Change
In the late 70s, Prochaska and DiClemente proposed a model outlining the stages of change after studying individuals’ experiences of quitting smoking. What is striking about their model is that we must move through three preparatory stages (i.e., blissfully unaware of our problem to thinking about changing to preparing for change) before moving into action. Their research also suggests that we often move into action, experience challenges modifying our behaviors, and go back to previous stages. However, going back to previous stages often serves us in finding new, possibly even better strategies to maintain behavioral changes.
Understanding the process of change
How can we use Prochaska and DiClemente’s model to help us reach our goals? Understanding how change really occurs can help us set realistic goals, expect backslides and hiccups, and give ourselves some grace when, inevitably, we don’t hit the mark the first time. If you are interested in diving into the stages of a change model more, I highly recommend the book, Changing for Good. This book breaks down how to use the stages of change model to break bad habits and move towards positive behavioral changes.
Debra has over ten years of community and clinical work with individuals, children, parents, and families and has been published in the Journal of Happiness Studies and Autism Research and Treatment. She received her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Eastern University and has gained specialized, intensive training in emotionally focused therapy (EFT) and Theraplay. She also has skills in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), strengths-based therapies, self-compassion training, attachment-based therapies, play therapy, and solution-focused therapy.
Dr. Debra Rezendes is a Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy and is working towards licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist in Virginia. She works under the supervision of Marianne S. Coad, MAMFC, LMFT, LPC-S. In the event that clients have any questions or concerns about Debra’s work, her supervisor can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, (703) 657-9721, or 10379-B Democracy Lane, Fairfax, VA 22030.