A Couple Thoughts on States of Change and “Making a Difference”

Last week I discussed the four steps a child will go through to make a change.  Most of you realize that this is based on work that was very popular in the 1990’s.   It was developed by Prochaska and his team of researchers and centered around quitting smoking—but the principles apply to any change in behavior.  They call it the Transtheoretical Model of behavior change, with six steps a person goes through as they make a change.

To move from one stage to the next people requires one or more change processes to occur.  What Prochaska calls the change process is divided into a group of 5 cognitive processes and 5 behavioral processes.  The awareness stage is squarely in the cognitive area, becoming conscious of the problem or a desire to be different than we are right now.  It includes analysis of self and others around us as we look at the vision of where we want to be.  This is part of the teaching that goes along with any education promoting change.

The behavioral processes relate to putting ourselves in a position to succeed.  This includes all of the 3 remaining steps that we will be discussing in the coming days and often in the future.  This is the step that our company Fitness Finders specializes in, the behavioral processes of change.  We will be discussing these more in the future.

I want to point out that in Prochaska’s work, when moving from awareness to commitment and beyond, our actions aren’t likely to bring someone from having no interest in the behavior we are promoting to being a full blown convert.  It is unlikely in one walking program lasting 6-12 weeks that we will take a sedentary child and turn them into a lifelong runner.  We need to look at progress like a therapist does, looking for steps in the right direction, moving a person from one stage to the next.  “All or nothing” attitudes most likely will end up with nothing given the short time we have to influence children, but progress occurs when we focus on moving from one stage to the next.

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