What Can I Do to Progress in My Changing Process? Part 2

In this second part of the blog on the stages of change, a few techniques are presented to help you progress from one stage to another or support a loved one going through a process of change. However, note that returning to a previous stage is not a failure. Maybe it can be seen as a reminder that more work had to be done in this previous stage before progressing to the next stage. Humans are constantly changing and adapting to external and internal situations; therefore, it is normal that our motivation also fluctuates.

  1. Precontemplation: At this stage, as you may not be aware that the behaviour is problematic yet, it can be helpful to start by simply evaluating it and thinking about what you want or need. In other words, we want to develop a more conscious awareness of the behaviour.
    • How to help someone during the precontemplation stage:
      • Offer support and active listening.
      • Provide information about the impacts of the behaviour, in a non-judgmental way.
  2. Contemplation: As you are starting to recognize the impacts of the behaviour, you may want to identify the pros and cons of making a change. This can help to see how your life could be different, should you modify the behaviour in any way.
    • How to help someone during the contemplation stage:
      • Make space to discuss the pros and cons of change with the person.
      • Let the person decide for themselves if they want to change the behaviour.
  3. Preparation: At this stage we want to identify any obstacles that may get in the way of making a change, as well as the skills and steps needed to make it happen.
    • How to help someone during the preparation stage: 
      • Help the person identify any obstacles.
      • Encourage the person in their decision and planning.
  4. Action: Here we want to use your support system and coping strategies to make the plan happen for as long as you can. Remember, it is normal to return to the preparation stage (or another previous stage), and think of more pros and cons or identify other obstacles that made it difficult to follow through with the plan. 
    • How to help someone during the action stage:
      • Reach-out and check-in with the person.
      • Remind them of the long-term benefits of their goals.
      • Play a supportive role in the life of the person.
  5. Maintenance: After the action plan has been put in place and practiced, we want to identify strategies and coping tools to help maintain it for a longer period. The idea is to have tools that can be helpful to support you as you experience a whole range of emotions (e.g.: What/who will you turn to when you are happy? When you are sad? Do you feel at risk of going back to the old behaviour if you have a bad day?).
    • How to help someone during the maintenance stage: 
      • Remind the person of their strengths and what they have accomplished so far.
      • Help the person develop a plan to support them in the long-term.

If you are experiencing challenges in changing a behaviour or are finding it difficult to support a loved one in their own process of change, know that therapists at CFIR-CPRI are available to support you. Our professionals are trained to support you to better understand what prevents you from attaining the changes you are hoping for, and to develop your motivation to change. Contact us via admin@cfir.ca and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.

Natalie Guenette, M.A., R. P. is a Registered Psychotherapist who works with adults in both English and French. She works with an integrative framework and provides services to those experiencing a broad range of difficulties, including substance use, depression, anxiety, self-esteem, and trauma.  

Why can’t I change? Part 1

Have you ever found yourself feeling stuck and unable to change a behaviour? Not having the motivation to make the necessary change? Feeling like ‘it’s just not the right time yet’? This might be because you are still ambivalent about changing.

The stages of change model (Prochaska et al., 1992) describes 5 stages that individuals experience when trying to change. Research shows that this model is an effective tool to help change a broad spectrum of behaviours, including addictions (Rahian, N. & Cogburn, M., 2023). It is important to note that it is common, and normal, to switch between stages and fall back to a stage we had previously ‘completed’, as the changing process is NOT linear. 

  1. Precontemplation: At this stage, individuals may not see their behaviour as a problem, and therefore, may not think about changing it. There can be resistance to make any modification and/or to receive support. There is often denial about the problematic behaviour. 
  2. Contemplation: In this second phase, individuals are starting to recognize and acknowledge that the behaviour may be problematic and are starting to consider changing it. Due to the ambivalence felt towards the worthiness of the changing process, individuals can often remain stuck at this stage for some time. During the contemplation stage, individuals are usually considering the pros and cons of change, although, because the behaviour is still serving them in some way, the cons associated with the change continue to outweigh the perceived pros.
  3. Preparation: individuals are committed to change at this stage and have usually started taking steps toward change. An action plan is set, and the pros of changing are now outweighing the cons. 
  4. Action: While in the action stage, individuals are actively involved in modifying their behaviour. This is usually the shortest stage, and when they are at the highest risk to go back to the initial behaviour, or, in other words, to relapse. 
  5. Maintenance: This final stage is when individuals have maintained the changed behaviour for about six months. The risk of relapsing has reduced, and they are building their confidence in their ability to maintain the new coping strategies developed throughout the changing process.  

Therapists at CFIR-CPRI can help support you to better understand what may prevent you from attaining the changes you are hoping for, and also to develop your motivation to change. Contact us via admin@cfir.ca and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.

Natalie Guenette, M.A., R. P. is a Registered Psychotherapist who works with adults in both English and French. She works with an integrative framework and provides services to those experiencing a broad range of difficulties, including substance use, depression, anxiety, self-esteem, and trauma.  


Key Points:

  1. Tangible Goals System
  2. Internal Motivation
  3. Self-Compassion

Have you ever set a New Year’s resolution filled with determination and ambition, followed by a shattering crash? I have! 

Setting a resolution is a big deal and can surely contribute to our sense of ambition and fulfillment. However, we tend to set goals that are completely doomed for failure. Read more for tangible tips to help your resolutions actually stick.

Tangible Goals System

Think of a goal you want in your life. Now, take that goal and break it into smaller goals (the more the merrier!). It is crucial to differentiate between what is and what is NOT in your control. These simple but mighty tips help our goals to become realistic, attainable, and practical. The more specific and distinct your system is, the greater the probability of following through with your goals. 

Internal Motivation

Consistent momentum’s best friend is internal or intrinsic motivation. Odds are, when we’re preoccupied on what the world thinks we “should” be doing, our motivation comes in spurts. Meaning, we are likely to experience that crash. If your motivation is coming from a place inside of you, it’s intrinsic and its lasting. Learning how to access that place inside of us can be easier said than done. Psychotherapy can be a great tool to help us strengthen our sense of self, improve our identity resilience, and learn how to differentiate between internal and external motivators. CFIR professionals are here to help you do just that, and more.


Don’t let a lapse turn into a relapse. Allow the setbacks to happen and then get back on track. Prioritizing self-compassion leaves us with the realistic wiggle room we need when it comes to attaining a goal. It can also help us to manage our expectations, eagerness, and feelings of guilt. Self-compassion is not based on positive judgements or evaluations, it is a way of relating to ourselves. The motivational power of self-compassion is the difference between working hard to grow and to learn vs. needing to impress ourselves and/or the world.

Natasha Vujovic, RP (Q). is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) at CFIR. She works with individuals and couples experiencing a wide range of psychological and relational difficulties including anxiety and stress, depression, mood and grief, relational conflict, trauma, life transitions, personality, body-image, marital and pre-marital, internal conflicts, family dynamics and self-esteem. Natasha is an integrative therapist pulling from psychodynamic/analytic theories and takes a collaborative and honest approach to session.

Motivation vs. Intention: Do You Lack the Drive to Set Personal or Professional Goals?

by: Erin Leslie, EQ-i Certified | Coach

Are you confused about how to bring about motivation vs. intention? It’s not uncommon to be confused about these difficulties. In our modern society, messages intended to distract us are everywhere. Sometimes these messages try to persuade us to buy into a fad or product. Getting you onto that conveyor belt of attempting to acquire and invest time and money, only to be unfulfilled in the end but to repeat the same cycle. 

Many people today tell me they are unmotivated at work and feel they’ve lost their career direction. More employees than you may think are feeling tired by the daily churn, and they don’t know how to change it! When I meet with them, I typically ask some key questions to see where the lack of interest lies. 

  • Is it due to personal distractions with family or friends?
  • Is it relationship-related issues with team or management?
  • Is it due to pre-existing beliefs or concepts that may need to be renewed?
  • Could it be depression? Have you sought professional consultation?

After some analysis, I find that it is not that many people necessarily lack motivation, but rather have difficulties with intention.

Purpose provides the compass that fuels our minds and bodies to move in a specific direction. Now how do we go about finding purpose? 

It’s quite simple.

I share two important methods of finding intention.

First, volunteer. Don’t think about it; do it. Go out this weekend and find a school, religious organization, municipal supporting event, or service and give your time. 

Volunteering allows your mind to stop focusing on itself. It opens up your thinking towards others and helps you care about an external problem that you may not have considered before. 

Volunteerism exposes you to areas of risk and need in your community and gets you instantly thinking – how can I change some aspect of this outcome into a more positive one? How can I improve the lives of others?

It also gives you the purest sense of intention. Helping, caring, and enabling another human is our foremost purpose. But we forget that sometimes.

Volunteering enhances your beliefs about what is important. It doesn’t require a lot of time or thinking. It requires you to feel and act. That renewed sense of purpose fuels your intention towards your future. 

Secondly, mentorship. I suggest entering a mentorship relationship with a peer or colleague. Mentorship allows us to focus our attention on another person’s inquiry, leveraging our own experience and knowledge to solve a problem and focus away from our own pain points. People find it highly satisfactory to support others ahead of themselves. Still, it is through an interaction of mentoring and helping that often we find the answers to our issues. 

I often say that everyone should mentor as we all have something to offer and learn in this enriching professional relationship. 

Do you specialize in a specific skill set, industry insight, or business strategy or methodology? Someone within or outside your professional circle is looking for guidance, and it only takes a few meetings a month to connect and follow up on a specific area of interest or need. Those meetings could make a real difference in a professional’s work-life. 

Are you ready to better understand and master the mental and emotional parts of striving for a successful career and a balanced life? CFIR’s Career and Workplace Service can help!