Prochaska’s six-stage model of behaviour change is based on research that has shown that people move through a series of stages when modifying or changing behaviour. This has been applied to people who are trying to change a problematic behaviour like smoking or pathological gambling. The first three stages represent variations in the individual’s intentions to change. Stage 1 is the precontemplation stage, where the person has no intention of changing their behaviour in the near future, possibly because they are unaware that it is a problem. Stage 2 is the contemplation stage, where the person is aware their behaviour is problematic, but are not committed to do anything about it. Stage 3 is the preparation stage, where those who are prepared to change their addictive behaviour start to make small changes (e.g. cutting down the number of cigarettes they smoke). The latter three stages are all ‘post-action’ stages: stage 4 is the action stage which involves the most change and is where the person modifies their behaviour in order to overcome their problems (e.g. stops smoking). They are classified as being in this stage when they have changed their behaviour for between 1 day and 6 months. Stage 5 is the maintenance stage, where the person has to work hard to prevent relapse (e.g. continue to not smoke). Stage 6 is the termination stage, and once the person enters this stage they are no longer tempted to revert to their previous behaviour (e.g. start smoking again) and often add new goals to achieve more success. Prochaska claimed only about 20% of people ever make it to this stage.

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