STAGES OF CHANGE

Most residential treatment centers use some type of level system to determine a student’s progress through their program and to manage student behavior. Uinta Academy does not use an artificial level system because it sends the message to students that getting healthy stops once they reach the upper level and leave the program. With level systems, students believe that making progress and getting healthy are just a matter of completing assigned tasks, checking off boxes, or “jumping through hoops” to get to the next level. This focus on external tasks may impede a student's ability to focus on the internal processes necessary for making lasting change. Furthermore, focusing on levels makes it difficult for a girl to generalize the treatment experience to other challenges that they will face throughout their life.

Uinta Academy believes that long term change cannot be externally imposed. We use the Stages of Change Model to assess an individual's progress in treatment. The Stages of Change Model was introduced over 20 years ago by two well-known researchers, Carlo C. DiClemente and James O. Prochaska, and is based on their observations of how people went about modifying problem behaviors. The idea behind SCM is that behavior change does not happen in one step. Rather, people tend to progress through different stages on their way to successful change. Each person decides when a stage is completed and when it is time to move on to the next stage. Also, each person progresses through the stages at their own rate.

At Uinta, identifying where an individual is at in the change process allows the therapist to tailor interventions to match the individual's readiness to change. Just as important is their understanding of where they are in the stages of change. Insight into cognitive distortions and unhealthy behaviors that are getting in the way of progress will help them take ownership of the change process. The Stages of Change are:

Precontemplation

is the stage at which there is no intention to change behavior in the foreseeable future. The individual is unaware or underaware of their problem or in denial that there is a problem at all. They may defend her behavior or deflect attention from themselves by blaming others. They are unable to see the risks and consequences of current behavior and resists self-analysis and introspection.

Contemplation

is the stage in which the individual is aware a problem exists and is seriously thinking about overcoming it, but they have not yet made a commitment to take action. They are aware of the benefits of making a change, but the costs tend to stand out more. This conflict creates a strong sense of ambivalence about changing. This ambivalence can cause an individual to remain stuck in the contemplation stage for a long time.

Preparation

is a stage that combines intention and behavioral criteria. The individual is intending to take action and may make small behavioral changes, but has not yet reached the decision to take effective action. They are gathering information about what they need to do to change their behavior. They may appear to “have one foot in the door” and the other foot out.

Action

is the stage in which the individual believes that they have the ability to change and modify their behavior, experiences, or environment in order to overcome their problems. She has made the commitment to spend the time and energy to alter her behavior. They are making overt behavioral changes and seeking help and support from others.

Maintenance

is the stage in which the individual works to prevent relapse. This stage is a continuation of change and can be considered to last a lifetime. The individual is constantly reformulating the rules of their life and acquiring new skills to deal with life and avoid relapse.

Relapse

Along the way to permanent change, most individuals experience a relapse of unhealthy cognitions and behaviors. The majority of teens do not follow a straight path to a new life but rather cycle through the stages before achieving a stable lifestyle change. Relapse is often accompanied by feelings of discouragement, failure, and frustration. The important thing is to help the teen analyze how the relapse happened and use it as an opportunity to learn how to cope differently. In fact, relapse can be an important opportunity for learning and becoming stronger.

"Uinta saved my life and helped me find myself again. I am so much stronger and happier because of Uinta."

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