The Transtheoretical Model is an integrative model of behavior change. This model describes how people modify a problem behavior or acquire a positive behavior. The central organizing construct of the model is the Stages of Change Model, which shows the six stages towards a positive behavior.
- Precontemplation Stage. At the first stage, it is extremely common for individuals to resist change and deny having a problem with drugs or alcohol. Social workers at the precomtemplation stage try to increase the individual’s awareness of their problematic substance use without pushing a diagnosis or label upon them.
- Contemplation Stage. This is the stage in which individual’s start thinking of changing their use of drugs/alcohol. This is a period of consideration, not commitment. An individual may express ambivalence about changing their behavior or benefit from a discussion of the pros/cons to changing their behavior.
- Preparation/Determination Stage. At this stage, individuals appear ready for and committed to action to change their behavior. Although their ambivalence may not be fully resolved at this point, they have decided to take a step in a positive direction and stop the problematic behavior. Action is required from the individual in order to be committed to change.
- Action. The fourth stage is when an individual is actively engaged in modifying and creating change toward the target behavior. Social workers helping clients that are at this stage will most likely develop a plan for change with them. Individuals will seek support from family and friends during this stage that can last from three to six months, or could take longer depending on the severity of the problem.
- Maintenance. During this stage, clients face a constant threat of relapse or return to their old problematic behavior. To avoid relapse, clients may seek additional treatment for supporting recovery at this stage. It is said that sometimes individuals may return to the problematic behavior in order to remember why they made the change in the first place.
- Relapse. This final stage DOES NOT occur for all individuals, but is very common. At this stage, an individual may regress from ANY stage to an earlier stage. Relapse can occur secondary to: unexpected urges or temptations, relaxation about the dangers of substance abuse, failing when testing ability to resist temptations of drugs/alcohol, or an erosion of the individual’s self-efficacy.
All information comes from: John Vassello’s “Social Work and Substance Abuse” Powerpoint on Blackboard.