Stages of change – Where are you or your clients at?

I have recently undertaken the Level 1 and 2 Wellness Coaching Course with Wellness Coaching Australia and this has really changed my how I approach working with some of my clients.  I initially thought I would undertake this course to help me become a better osteopath for my clients, however I was soon to realise that this was also a great journey that I could go on myself.

As an osteopath we have probably all experienced clients presenting to the clinic looking or expressing a desire for something different or better.  Whilst a large number of clients are motivated to see an osteopath to get out of pain, more and more are coming to seek advice and move towards a healthier and more fulfilling life.  This brings me to todays blog post which is going to discuss the stages of change.  Whilst I have always understood that there are certain stages people move through or often get stuck on, the Wellness Coaching course helped greatly to give it a basic framework.

Below I have summarized the stages of change in order from pre contemplation through to Action.  When working with clients I will often have them think about these stages and some of the key elements associated with each stage so that they can reflect and plan what/where/why/how they want something something specifically.   Having a framework to work with is great because this is something that we as practitioners are used to working with, but also our clients are able to see easily the process involved.  Whilst some might only be in the pre contemplation stage with many things, perhaps further down the track in 3, 6 or 12 months when you see them again they will be ready to progress through the stages of change towards their goals.

Stages of Change

Pre Contemplation Stage – Typically this occurs early on and we or our clients start to become aware of something that we may want to do/become/change.  Typically we may be moved emotionally by something we see, something someone says or does.   In this stage we will often re evaluate our values and may look to start the process of contemplation.

Contemplation Stage – In this stage we may often start to weigh up the pros and cons with our new thought/goal/focus/vision etc.  We often start to gather as much information as possible and may start to think about the benefits attached to changing.

Preparation Stage – In the preparation stage we may again go over the pros and cons of changing.  We may also start to make a commitment to changing, be it through telling someone or writing it down.  We also start to become aware of and should be mindful about removing any cues that don’t have us moving towards our goal in a positive way.  Gathering support from family, friends and colleagues is also important during this stage.

Action Stage – So we are ready.  We have made a commitment, plan strategies to deal with negative cues or scenarios that don’t support our goal.  We must also plan how we will reward ourselves for achieving some of the mini goals (daily or weekly goals) towards our larger goal or plan.

Maintenance Stage – Once we have achieved our goal, how do we maintain this.  We must continue to adopt and maintain our rewards and substitution strategies and maintain a good network of support.

Relapse Stage – Should we relapse during any of these phases, we must be able to review each of the stages to understand where we are at exactly and plan and prepare how we will do things differently next time we start the process over again.

Next time you are working with a client or thinking about a new goal, have a think about the stages of change and where you are at in this process.  In future blogs I will go into more depth about vision setting and planning your strategy towards achieving your goals.

This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy. Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD leading Osteopathy clinics. At the clinic we treat a wide range of clients, ranging from the office worker, exercise enthusiast to athlete. We have 3 experienced osteopaths working across both of the clinics. The Melbourne City CBD clinic is located at 29 Somerset Place (basement), close to the corner of Elizabeth St and Little Bourke in the Melbourne City CBD. Our premises adjoin the Jon Weller Personal Training Studio, a fully-equipped training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials or specific training programs and rehabilitation. The Docklands clinic is located at 717 Bourke St (Ground Floor), beneath the Channel 9 building near the walkway from Southern Cross Train Station to Etihad Stadium. Our premises adjoin Pilates on Bourke, a fully-equipped pilates and yoga training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials, pilates or specific training programs and rehabilitation. To speak to an Osteopath or book an appointment at Principle Four Osteopathy, please book online or call 03 9670 9290.