Change and Resilience

Adapt or fail. This is the essence of resilience.

The ‘Stages of Change’ is a behaviour change model used widely in psychology and addiction therapies. It has something of real value to offer those wishing to manage change in their own lives and improve their resilience and mental health.

It’s safe to say that Mental Health is now firmly on the agenda for employers of all shapes and sizes. There is quite rightly, a lot of energy going in to promoting messages calling for people to talk more about mental health. However, one of the problems is that talking about mental health all too quickly turns in to talking about mental illness.

The medical model focusses on mental illness and looks for symptoms. It arrives at a diagnosis and then offers treatment options to the patient. In other words, mental illness (such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, personality disorder) is treated in much the same way as one might respond to a physical diagnosis.

The psycho-social approach takes a different approach to mental health by focussing not on treatments for an illness, but what can be done by the individual to improve their mental health. This approach is sometimes criticised because it appears to ‘blame’ the individual. But this is to fundamentally misunderstand the message of building resilience. It’s not about blaming and it’s not just about the individual. It is about taking responsibility for the choices we make and, when necessary (and possible), to change the environment around us.

Applying what we know about behavioural psychology to promote resilience through change is becoming increasingly popular as a tool to improve mental health, emotional resilience and physical wellbeing.

What is the ‘Stages of Change’ model?

Sometimes referred to as the ‘Cycle of Change’ or the ‘transtheoretical model’, it is a way of understanding behaviour change that was pioneered by two American psychologists James Prochaska and Carlo Di Clemente in their work on mental health and addiction.

The model describes a cycle of change because the stages a person goes through in making changes to their life are often not linear, but cyclical and they often follow a sequence.

The stages of change are identified as:

  1. Pre-contemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparing to Change
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance
  6. Relapse

Guiding Principles

There are underpinning principles which help to guide the person through the various steps involved in making long term sustainable changes in their life.

  • Be honest in your assessment of yourself
  • Believe in your capacity to change
  • Don’t seek to be ‘happy’. Aim to be authentic
  • Develop your own personal routines.

How does it help you to become more resilient?

The stages of change model underlines the importance of motivation and helps us to adapt our responses to adversity. It emphasises the power we have to make choices and voluntarily expose ourselves to the risks and benefits of change.

One way or another, adversity and change is going to come in to our lives. It is our response to adversity that defines us as resilient or fragile in any situation. Just as talking through our thought processes with a counsellor can be therapeutic, so can writing our thoughts down. The e-learning course offered by Embrace Resilience contains this therapeutic writing dimension which helps to bring clarity and relevance when thinking about change and resilience.

For more information on the Change and Resilience e-learning courses, contact Mike Burke or call 0161 928 9987.

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