Most strategies for supporting intentional behavior change focus on just one dimension of the problem (social factors, psychological issues, etc.). What makes the Transtheoretical Model so highly-regarded is that it combines the most effective techniques from several different areas of study. That’s the basis for the name – trans, a prefix meaning across, plus theoretical, meaning concerned with the theory of a subject or area of study.
The Transtheoretical Model has been developed over a period of nearly three decades, and was first conceived in 1977 by James O. Prochaska and other researchers at the University of Rhode Island. In that span of time, tens of millions of dollars in grants and well over 100,000 research participants have worked toward testing and improving the model.
The Transtheoretical Model consists of 4 constructs: the Stages of Change, the Processes of Change, Decisional Balance, and Self-Efficacy.
The core of the Transtheoretical Model is breaking down the complex process of changing behavior into 5 distinct stages: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
It helps to break down the process of change into 5 stages, but that doesn’t offer much practical insight into what someone can actually do to change themself.
The following 10 Processes of Change are implemented throughout the Stages of Change to help addicts quit:
Decisional Balance is basically just a fancy term for “pros and cons.”
The pros and cons of engaging in substance abuse change drastically for an addict as they progress through the stages of change. In fact, those changes to the decisional balance are what motivate an addict to progress through those stages.
During the Precontemplation Stage, whether consciously or not, the addict decides that the cons of quitting their substance of choice outweigh the pros of quitting it.
During the Contemplation Stage, the balance between pros and cons is about even. As the pros start to outweigh the cons, the addict begins to recognize that they have a problem that must be addressed and they move on to the Preparation and Action stages. During the Maintenance Stage, the pros must continue to outweigh the cons in order to prevent a relapse.
Efficacy is defined as “the power to produce a desired result or effect.”
The construct of self-efficacy describes how well the addict is able to handle temptations to engage in substance abuse.
During the Precontemplation and Contemplation Stages, they can’t control temptations. During the Preparation and Action Stages, addicts learn techniques that allow them to have more self-control, and finally when they’ve reached the Maintenance Stage they’ll have the tools they need to not engage in substance abuse and fight any future urges to relapse.
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