Monday, April 11, 2011


Motivation to change is a difficult challenge for many of my clients. I see individuals who have been sexually, mentally, emotionally, and physically abused. Those that experience these tragic incidents during childhood appear to have developmental crises that were never resolved. Most would say "well, that's a no-brainer," but the hard thing is not pointing out the problem, but helping an individual find a solution. Motivational Interviewing and Solution-focused therapies can be very beneficial in helping the client empower themselves to start moving, again. The Stages of Change are good indicators of where someone is in their personal progression.
The stages are as follows: pre-contemplative, contemplative, preparation, action, and maintenance stages. By using intentional interviewing techniques, one can ascertain where a client is in their stages, why they're there, and what it will take for them to move on.
However, change is always hard. It requires breaking through ambivalent thoughts and feelings, as well as cognitive dissonance. Change is also very unpredictable. Once one moves from their current state to another, they no longer can predict what will happen and fear is the resultant emotion. Therefore, the individual must work through the fear.
Fear can happen due to ignorance or not knowing how to deal with an emotion or thought. Therefore, the way to deal with emotion is knowledge. Sometimes that knowledge is knowledge about oneself and what motivates change to occur. It also requires fighting natural emotional and cognitive responses that are not in harmony with the change one wants to make. Therefore, it can even be internally combustible within the individual during times of extreme upheaval. However, as change occurs, the individual realizes the truth. Their original state before change began was an illusion of personal control. When stuck, we don't have control over anything as we are in a state of stagnation. When one becomes unstuck, they to another state that is no longer predictable. They have to exercise self-control and learn how to respond to unpredictable situations and grow from them. The growth is frightening and can be painful, but the result is liberation from oneself.
Liberation, it seems, comes when we realize we have control over ourselves and nothing else. We can only influence people and our environment, but nothing more. When we realize we don't have control over things outside of ourselves, we no longer require the responsibility of trying to maintain control. We only try to influence to the best of our ability. Those of us with children learn that we cannot make them do anything, but we can teach them positive principles while they're young, provide a loving and nurturing environment, and as they get older allow them to govern themselves with our continued guidance until they move out on their own. Even that can be scary.
Change boils down to dealing with fear, accepting it, even embracing it, and plugging ahead with courage.

For info on Stages of Change, Motivational Interviewing and more, this is a good article. I am by no means endorsing it! The information is applicable.

Jamison Law

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