In the blog post “Stages of Change in SMART Recovery,” you might have thought to yourself that I should/want to make a certain change in my life but I do not even know where to start. You might also be wanting to help someone else make a change in their lifestyle and they are needing your help.

As a recap, the Stages of Change are Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance, and Termination. Also relapse can occur at any moment in the changes. An individual can go back and forth in the stages and do not have a time limit on any of them.

The Precontemplation stage is when an individual is not considering a change and is unwilling to make a change. In this stage, motivation can be used by gaining rapport and establishing a relationship with the other individual. Encouraging the individual to re-evaluate the current behavior and address doubts and concerns that might be occurring. Encourage self-exploration and be non-judgmental.

Contemplation stage is when the individual is aware of the problem initially and is in the planning process but is not sure what they want to happen. There is a sort of ambivalence to making the change. Motivation for this change can occur when encouraging the individual to look at pros and cons and discuss barriers to change. Discuss the goals, who can be involved to help, and need for change. Identify and promote positive outcomes and expectations.

Preparation stage is essentially the middle stage where some change is steps towards positive changes is occurring. They have not reached a stable position, but are testing out what can be done. To help yourself or an individual in this stage is to reinforce their commitment of the new behavior and problem solve what the issue may be. Verify the underlying reason of the change.

Action! This is when the individual is making a change and practicing the new behavior. To help motivative the individual can be done by focusing how they have gotten to this position, combat feelings of loss, and develop new skills.

The Maintenance stage is where the commitment is steady and maintaining the new behavior is part of the individual’s daily life occurrences. To assist in motivation can be done by affirming their determination for their positive life changes and reinforce internal rewards. Review and identify coping skills that have been helpful and continue to review long-term goals.

Relapse is resumption of old behaviors. Relapse can sometimes be very frustrating and will give the individual no hope when trying to make a change. Encouraging the individual to understand re-enter the stages of change can be beneficial. Support the individual and help them get back on track ids also helpful. Mainly staying by their side and being a big support.

None of this is easy and an individual can always go back and forth in stages and some stages of change might take longer than others. Each individual goes through changes at their own pace. Identifying what change needs to occur and telling others to help support you can be helpful in making revolutions.

Stay tuned for more information and in-depth discussion about addiction and SMART Recovery. If you have any ideas or want further understanding, feel free to contact Meenal Patel, MA, LPC (mpatel@symmetrycounseling.com).

For more information or if interested about joining Symmetry Counseling’s SMART Recovery Group, feel free to reach out to our trained therapist, Meenal Patel, MA, LPC.