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The Stages of Change

We experience and influence all kinds of change in our lives. We can feel a wide range of emotions about change, from the miniscule choices we make daily (some of which, like changing your regular coffee order because they ran out at the shop, might feel very disrupting) to more major life alterations (like deciding to leave a job or cutting out a bad friend). We all decide to make changes in our own way, but viewing change in stages can be helpful in tracking progress and growth!

The stages of change include-

  • Precontemplation- you haven’t quite acknowledged or identified that there is a problem or behavior that needs to be changed

  • Contemplation- you acknowledge that there is a problem but you’re not yet ready, sure of wanting, or lack confidence to make a change

  • Preparation- you are getting ready to change

  • Action- you modify your behavior and your surroundings (this step can take a lot of time and energy)

  • Maintenance- you engage in behaviors or situations that help you maintain the change

  • Relapse- you might revert back to old patterns or behaviors

  • Termination- lasting change has occurred and things look different in your environment/you see your environment differently as a result!

Change never ends with action. Without a strong commitment to maintenance, there will surely be relapse, usually to the precontemplation or contemplation stage. Most successful changers go through these stages three or four times before they make it through the cycle of change without at least one slip. Luckily, slips give us the opportunity to learn and continue to grow!


Nikki Larsen, LMFT Associate

We are all storytellers. I believe that people are shaped by the stories they are told by family, friends, culture, society, or even themselves. Sometimes stories are ruled by brokenness, fear, hurt, past trauma, or future anxieties. Dominant themes that run these stories might include “I’m not enough,” or, “I’m a failure.” It can be intimidating, scary, or even painful to share our stories with others, but letting people into your narrative is the most beautiful act of bravery.


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