the stages of change While the social work exam may not refer to the Transtheoretical Model (TTM), there's a pretty good chance you'll encounter an exam question about the Stages of Change. The Stages of Change, part of the Transtheoretical Model, were proposed by alcoholism researchers, Carlo C. DiClemente and J. O. Prochaska. You've most likely encountered them before, but here's the list (via Wikipedia):

  • Precontemplation (Not Ready)-"People are not intending to take action in the foreseeable future, and can be unaware that their behavior is problematic"
  • Contemplation (Getting Ready)-"People are beginning to recognize that their behavior is problematic, and start to look at the pros and cons of their continued actions"
  • Preparation (Ready)-"People  are intending to take action in the immediate future, and may begin taking small steps toward behavior change"
  • Action - "People have made specific overt modifications in modifying their problem behavior or in acquiring new healthy behaviors"
  • Maintenance - "People have been able to sustain action for a while and are working to prevent relapse"
  • Termination - "Individuals have zero temptation and they are sure they will not return to their old unhealthy habit as a way of coping"

The easiest way for licensing exam writers to test you on this material, is with a question describing a addicted client's level of readiness to make change. Something like this:

A social worker sees a client who has been addicted to pain killers for several years. The client has read some Narcotics Anonymous literature, but so far has not attended any twelve-step meetings. Which of DiClemente and Prochaska's Stages of Change BEST fit the client?

A) Contemplation

B) Preparation

C) Action

D) Precontemplation

Right now, with the list in front of you, it's easy enough to dart your eyeballs around and come up with the right answer. Let's see...has taken some steps (reading N.A. lit)...not quite Action...sounds more like "small steps"...that means Preparation! Check B.

During the exam, you won't have the list in front of you, but you will have the sweet memory of having read this post. Smile to yourself once you're there, get that answer checked correctly, and move on. Next thing you know, you're licensed. Congratulations in advance!


For more practice questions about the Stages of Change and lots more, sign up!


[Post by Will Baum, LCSW]

May 27, 2014
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