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How the Transtheoretical Model can support you to change

I think that most of us know what and why we want to make changes, for example, we want to find a new job to feel more satisfied at work– most often it’s the getting started and the how of change that can be most challenging.

Understanding and utilising an evidence-based framework, such as the Transtheoretical Model of Change (TTM), developed by James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente, can be very helpful in understanding how we progress through changes in behaviour – especially the getting started part. This model is particularly valuable in coaching because it provides a structured approach to support clients at different stages of their change journey. By understanding and applying the TTM, I tailor my strategies to effectively meet my clients' needs and facilitate lasting change.

What is the Transtheoretical Model of Change?

The Transtheoretical Model of Change outlines six stages that individuals go through when changing behaviour:

An infographic of the Transtheoretical Model of Change, adapted from Prochaska & DiClemente
Transtheoretical Model of Change, adapted from Prochaska & DiClemente

Precontemplation: The individual is not yet considering change and may be unaware that a change is necessary.

Contemplation: The individual recognises the need for change and begins to think about making a change but has not yet committed to action.

Preparation: The individual starts planning for change and may take small initial steps.

Action: The individual actively implements strategies to change their behaviour.

Maintenance: The individual works to sustain the change over time and prevent relapse.

Relapse/ Termination: The individual has fully integrated the change into their life, and the risk of relapse is minimal.

How I utilise TTM in Coaching

1. Assessing Readiness for Change

One of the primary benefits of TTM in coaching is its emphasis on assessing readiness for change – which is also one of the key determinants of an effective coaching engagement. For instance, a client in the precontemplation stage may need help recognising the benefits of change (for example, the job that they are in is not satisfying but also not terrible to create the push factor for them to start looking elsewhere, but by discussing the benefits of a new job that can increase satisfaction within coaching it can support to move to the contemplation stage) but, while a client in the preparation stage may need support in developing a concrete action plan (in coaching, this is where we would develop goals and an action plan to get started).

2. Tailoring Interventions

TTM gives me an indication on which interventions or resources would be best according to your stage. For example:

Precontemplation: Use motivational interviewing to raise awareness about the benefits of change and the consequences of not changing. Eg. What is the cost of staying in a job that is not satisfying? What could you gain if you did change jobs?

Contemplation: Weighing the pros and cons of changing and addressing any ambivalence. Eg. Through brainstorming, exploring through thought-provoking questions

Preparation: Help to develop a detailed action plan, set realistic goals, and identify potential obstacles.

Action: Here’s where I can provide support and encouragement, help monitor progress, and adjust strategies as needed. Think of me like your accountability partner and cheerleader!

Maintenance: This is where we look at strategies for sustaining change, dealing with setbacks, and preventing relapse.

3. Enhancing Self-Efficacy

The TTM framework highlights the importance of self-efficacy, or the belief in one's ability to succeed, which is a very valuable skill to develop. By celebrating small victories and helping you build on your successes, this reinforcement can increase your motivation and commitment to maintaining positive changes.

4. Preventing Relapse

Relapse is a common challenge in any behaviour change process. TTM acknowledges that relapse can occur and views it as a normal part of the change cycle. I use this understanding to help clients develop relapse prevention strategies, learn from setbacks and employ a growth mindset, rather than seeing them as failures.

5. Supporting Sustainable Change

The ultimate goal of coaching is to facilitate sustainable change. The TTM framework, supports with maintenance of change over the long term and achieve lasting results.

How you can use the model yourself

Implementing the TTM for personal growth involves a structured approach: Begin by identifying the specific change you want to make and assess which stage of the TTM you are currently in—precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, or maintenance.

1. In the precontemplation stage, work on increasing your awareness about the need for change.

2. Move to contemplation by weighing the pros and cons of the change.

3. In the preparation stage, develop a detailed action plan, setting realistic goals and identifying potential obstacles.

4. Once in the action stage, implement your strategies while tracking progress and making necessary adjustments.

5. Focus on the maintenance stage by establishing routines that support the new behavior and planning for relapse prevention.

6. If relapse occurs, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on what stopped you from making lasting change, and seeing this as a learning and growth experience for you to bring into the next cycle of TTM.

The Transtheoretical Model of Change provides a structured and supportive approach to achieving your goals – with or without a coach’s support.

If you’d like my help to make a change, please


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