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Strategies For Change

I have set out below some strategies that you can use for achieving change following the principles of Motivational Interviewing. As can be seen from the table below, slightly diffferent strategies apply depending what stage you are of the change process. If you are not familiar with the stages of change referred to in the table below, then before reading these strategies, please go to: Stages of Change Model.



If you are at precontemplation stage it is unlikely you would be reading this! However, if you really believe that you are in a position of not thinking about or desiring change at the moment, then you could run through the following checklist:

  • Can you see any reasons to change (if you can, then move on to stage 2!). If you can't then:
  • Try doing some quick research about the benefits that others have got from achieving change in this area and think about whether any could possibly apply to you
  • Try doing some quick research about the problems that can be caused by not changing
  • If you are doubtful that you can achieve change then
    • List any counter arguments to that doubt - i.e. list arguments for believeing that you might be able to make some positive changes in this area even if small
    • List the reasons why you think it might be very difficult for you to achieve any change and for each reason ask yourself what can you do to help deal with that reason (even if only partially)
    • Think about and write down what you would do if you decided that you might want to make changes - even if you're not thinking of doing it right now
  • Write down what you see as all the benefits of achieving change for you and (on the other side) all the disadvantages for you of trying to achieving change
  • What would be the most important benefits of change for you - think about how you can keep these in your consciousness
  • Consider whether there are any small steps you could try out to begin to make changes
  • Reflect on how to deal with any potential negative aspects of change
  • Reflect on your different options for trying to achieve change and the potential result of implementing them
  • Plan change carefully rather than make a decison as a knee-jerk reaction
  • Break your plan down into achievable goals
  • Consider how to address potential stumbling blocks
  • Think about where you can get support with implementing your plan
  • Try to follow your plan, monitor and review progress
  • Acknowledge any progress and achievements of actions/goals/targets even if small
  • Reward yourself in a constructive way if you achieve a goal which is significant for you
  • Remember the positive outcomes that you are working towards through your plan and any personal and practical benefits for you
  • Pace your actions at a realistic level whwere you are more likely to be able to sustain motivation
  • Learn from things which don't turn out as expected
  • Make use of appropriate support
  • Recognise that development is an ongoing process
  • Work out and implement strategies for dealing with problems if they arise
  • Maintain and review plans until absolutely sure they are no longer required
  • Think about whether there is a way you can help others make positive changes
Lapse or Relapse

A lapse (temporary slip) is not the same as a relapse (long term state of slipping back):

  • Remember if you lapse or slip temporarily this doesn't have to become a relapse
  • Remember not to give up hope! Instead try to recognise any progress you have already made, review and update your action plan in the light of experience if necessary, learning from the lapse
  • Try to get back on track, making use of any appropriate available support
  • If your lapse does turn into a longer term relapse, then assess which stage in the Change Process you have fallen back to and apply the appropriate strategies from this table for that stage
  • Try not to see your lapse as a personal failure by you - remember change is hard and it is normal to lapse or relapse. What practical steps can you take? Is there anything you can do differently to help avoid a repetition of the lapse/relapse or improve your chances of success? Try not to judge yourself - be practical!


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