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Unlocking Behavior Change: A Deep Dive into the Trans-theoretical Model

Welcome back to my behavior change blog series! Today, I’m unpacking the Trans-theoretical Model (TTM), a dynamic framework that guides us through the different stages of behavioral change.

Understanding the Trans-theoretical Model (TTM)

Developed by Prochaska and DiClemente in the late 1970s, the Trans-theoretical Model (TTM) suggests that behavioral change is a process that occurs through a series of distinct stages. This theory integrates ideas from other theories, creating a comprehensive theory of behavior change that can be applied to a variety of behaviors, populations, and settings. Unlike some theories that assume people are ready to change at any given moment, the TTM acknowledges that individuals move through various stages at their own pace.

The Six Stages of Change

Pre-contemplation: In this stage, individuals may not be aware of the need for change. They have no immediate intention to take action and may be resistant to recognizing a problem.

Contemplation: Individuals in this stage acknowledge the need for change but are still weighing the pros and cons. They may be ambivalent and not yet committed to taking action.

Preparation: Now, individuals are getting ready to take action. They may have a plan in place and are actively seeking strategies to make the change happen.

Action: This is the stage where individuals initiate specific actions to bring about change. It requires commitment and effort to modify behavior.

Maintenance: After successfully implementing change, individuals enter the maintenance stage, where they work to prevent relapse and consolidate the gains made during the action stage.

Termination: In the final stage, individuals have successfully ingrained the new behavior, and the risk of relapse is minimal. Not everyone reaches this stage for all behaviors, and that's perfectly normal.

Tailoring Interventions to Each Stage

One of the strengths of the TTM is its recognition that interventions need to be tailored to an individual's readiness to change. What works for someone in the pre-contemplation stage might not be effective for someone in the action stage. By understanding where individuals are in the process, interventions can be more personalized and effective.

Real-world Application of TTM

Let's consider an example: reducing sugar intake. Someone in the pre-contemplation stage might not even see that eating three doughnut for breakfast every day is a problem, while someone in the contemplation stage might be considering the health risks. A person in the preparation stage is actively researching alternative breakfast ideas, while someone in the action stage has started turning to healthier breakfast options. A person in maintenance has successfully refrained from daily sugary breakfasts for an extended period, honoring the idea of consuming sugar in moderation.

Embracing Change at Your Pace

To sum it all up, the Trans-theoretical Model emphasizes that change is a process, not an event. This is why so many diets don’t work. It’s hard to instantly switch all your food choices!

Understanding the stages of change can empower individuals and those supporting them to navigate the journey successfully. Whether you're contemplating a change or actively in the midst of it, recognizing and respecting each stage is crucial for sustainable behavioral transformation.

At Kelly’s Choice, our dietitians meet you where you are in the process of developing healthy habits! And we support you through the maintenance stage. Sometimes our patients call us back years later, having fallen back a few stages and we help them achieve the maintenance stage again.

Stay tuned for our next installment where we'll explore the Social Cognitive Theory of Behavior Change. Until then, embrace the stages of change and keep progressing on your journey to a healthier and happier you, and know that we are always here to help!


Prochaska, J. O., Velicer, W. F., Rossi, J. S., Goldstein, M. G., Marcus, B. H., Rakowski, W., ... & Sun, X. (2018). Stages of change and decisional balance for 12 problem behaviors. Health Psychology, 13(1), 39-46.

Pro-Change Behavior Systems. "Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change." Pro-Change Behavior Systems, Pro-Change Behavior Systems. Accessed January 8, 2024.



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