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RecoveryPlus Workplace

Recovery Plus: Workplace wellbeing 50 September 2016 T Understand the stages of change How do we learn to express compassion and caring with people who are often difficult and unhappy about their alcohol/drug use being addressed and whose central disorder is often characterised by behaviours which do not easily elicit empathy? And given how people differ, how can we develop a personal treatment plan grounded in science? Further, how can we apply those same principles to other colleagues, even to ourselves? Is there a common framework? Can the process of change be applied at a systemic level as well as at an individual level? What is the Stages of Change model? Developing genuine understanding of – even empathy for – someone with substance-use problems requires us to look beyond that person’s behaviour when using alcohol or drugs, and to understand the nature of substance-use disorders and difficulties inherent in changing long-standing, pervasive patterns of thought and behaviour. We are helped in this by the model which posits five stages of change: ÂÂ precontemplation ÂÂ contemplation ÂÂ preparation ÂÂ action and ÂÂ maintenance. In the precontemplation stage, people show no sign of intent to change a problem behaviour, be it because of a lack of awareness, unwillingness or a lack of hope because previous attempts failed. In the second stage, contemplators are more visibly distressed about their problem behaviours than precontemplators and have begun to weigh the positives and negatives of change. The preparation stage covers people who are ready to change both attitude and behaviour, and to change soon. When people are in the action stage, behaviour change has clearly begun. So they need skills to implement specific change methods. They also need to be aware of the psychological – cognitive, behavioural and emotional – events which can work against their best efforts. And they need to learn how to prevent major reversals, such as having a relapse and returning to pre-change patterns. The action stage lasts an average of about six months. The last major stage of change is maintenance, when people sustain and strengthen advances. All this is voluntary rather than coerced change. Indeed, the stages of change are a model of “how to think” rather than “how to do”. They describe attitudes, intentions and behaviours related to the tasks of change. Note that the “change” sought is specific: commitment to change one behaviour might say nothing about commitment to change a related behaviour. And each stage refers to a time period and to tasks which a person or organisation must complete before moving to the next stage. The common characteristics of people in the precontemplative stage are: defensive, resistant to suggestion of problems associated with their use/ behaviour, uncommitted or passive in treatment/work, consciously or unconsciously avoiding steps to change their behaviour, lacking awareness of a problem,


RecoveryPlus Workplace
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