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Change: Are you ready?

I’ve been deep in talks with a wonderful human who is working to support people making profound realisations while leading them to resources and a path to change.

We’ve been discussing a broad range of topics. But, the topic I want to touch on today is readiness to change; readiness to change in you and assessing readiness to change in others.

Researchers have been considering this topic of readiness for a number of years but I’m still surprised by how often it’s over looked. I think many people believe that if they’re showing up for counselling they must be ready. Clinicians understand that it’s much more complicated than that.

Motivation and change are hot topics. In recent years the “personal growth” business has been spurred on by social media and tonnes of self-help coaches have sprung up. Most have little or no training and are basing their programmes on their own success…which in turn is evidenced by the sale of their story to you on the basis that it’s possible to be amazing and successful if you just do what they did.

What they don’t consider is readiness to change. The research point to are five stages:

  • precontemplation - I don’t have a problem that needs changing

  • contemplation - I have a problem with hoarding and I think I should work on it

  • preparation - I intent to take action and change my hoarding behaviours

  • action - I’m doing something about my hoarding

  • maintenance - I’m keeping the ball rolling but need help continuing my progress

McConnaughy, Prochaska and Velicer (1983) created the Stages of Change Questionnaire and it has been adapted for hoarding in the bibliotherapy text Buried in Treasures: Help for compulsive acquiring, saving, and hoarding but I’ve created pen and paper quiz you can do in 5 minutes to see where you are on the stages of change ladder with regard to your hoarding. The quiz is based on a couple of different measures that were originally developed for alcohol and drug abuse and adapted by Tolin, Frost, Steketee, and Muroff and I’ve added in the preparation stage as the recent research suggests it’s relevant.

Quiz

You might find yourself ambivalent at this stage in your journey and score highly in a number of stages but it’s somewhere to start.

If you’re helping someone who hoards and are unaware of their readiness to change look to their word choice, body language, and actions. Are they “shoulding” and “musting” but not making progress? Do they avoid sessions and forget to practice new skills? Try turning the statements in the quiz into questions and see what you uncover.

If you are an adult child of a person who hoards you may need to assess your parent’s readiness to change. It’s not your JOB to be their therapist or to change them; however it can be helpful to assess the stage of change your parent is in because it’s futile to believe action can occur when someone is in the precontemplation stage. They don’t believe they have a problem that requires change. Fullstop.

We often have a fantasy of change and reconnection even if we don’t realise it. Deep down we hold on to the hope that a switch will flip, scales will fall from their eyes. They will truly “see” us, realise the part they’ve played in our pain and make reparations. Reality is a little more complicated and a lot less Disney.

Until next week :)

Jan <3

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