Stages of change

A person, campus, organization or community does not change abruptly from one state to another, and the journey is not a linear one. Rather, the journey is characterized as moving from one stage to another. One way of characterizing these stages is relevant to the readiness to change. A person starts in a place where change may not even be recognized as a possibility – they have accepted the current state as ‘just the way they are’, ‘just the way life works’. Others may have moved through this stage but still considering whether the effort of change is worth the cost (perhaps in time, in change in identity, the potential loss of relationships). Still others may have moved on, tried some ways to change, and have ‘slid back’ into behaviours that they are more skilled at.

The reason this is important is to make sure to align health promoting strategies to the stage the person is in. This is easier to see in one-on-one strategies, but is also very important to build into strategies that are aimed at groups.