Concept 6: Stages of Change in Mental Health Recovery

Change is a constant in life. It can be both challenging and transformative. There are times when we choose change and time when it is thrust upon us. The most lasting changes happen when we are supported through the stages of change. That is what peer support work can have a big impact. We can support our peers through the hard work of change – and the choice to change.

There are stages of change In the journey of mental health recovery. Here, we are looking at the transtheoretical Stages of Change theory developed by psychologists Prochaska, Norcross, and DiClemente about behavioural change. Their research revealed that all individuals move through predictable stages when undergoing significant life changes. By identifying and understanding these stages, peer support workers can effectively guide and empower those on their path to recovery.

As you can see from the image above, an individual progresses through the stages of change from a state of unawareness (pre-contemplation) into awareness and consideration (contemplation), before deciding to change. Planning and preparation are put in gear, and then the individual takes action. After that, the behaviour change is maintained and it becomes integrated into their life, whereupon they begin to consider another stage of growth. It’s important to notice that individuals may find their entry point at any stage, or they may exit at any stage. As peer supporters, we should be aware of what happens in these stages of change so that we can help our peers move towards their goals at the pace they choose.

▶ Take action

Review the stages of change in detail in your handbook, then return to complete the quiz below. Turn to the section called “Concept 6: Stages of Change” on page 38 (Part 2, Lesson 8).