Ready for Courageous Action?


New clients often say it took months, sometimes years, to finally seek support. To pick up the phone to talk with a potential therapist or send an outreach email. 


Each time I hear this, I offer a bit of education about behavior change.


In order to address the areas of life that need to shift, the courage to take forward action requires thought and effort.


In this blog, I’ll be sharing information on a model known as the Stages of Change developed by psychological researchers. This model helps people understand behavior change and how to work toward healthy behaviors.


Over the years, many scientific studies have shown there are different pieces to the model that may or may not be relevant for certain people or psychological challenges. The core 6 steps to the model are:

  1. Pre-contemplation

  2. Contemplation

  3. Preparation

  4. Action

  5. Maintenance

  6. Relapse

How does the model work for psychological wellness (physical, mental, and emotional health)?


Most often new clients struggle with the first two steps, and seek out a therapist because they’re in step 1 in one or more areas of their life.

  • Precontemplation

  • Contemplation

Everyone spends time thinking, or contemplating, how would or could my life be different? Examples are:

  • Weight loss and healthy behaviors

  • Improved communication with others

  • Increased self-worth

  • Improved mood

  • Job change

A psychologist (therapist) can help a client move forward from just thinking about making a change, to identifying the barriers and finding solutions, and then engaging in action.


Often times clients who have been to therapy previously and gained some insight about how past challenges impact current difficulties seek support steps 3 and then 4.

  • Action

  • Maintenance

Experienced clients understand where they are struggling and want more support to help refine their skills and then keep doing things to keep those skills working for them.


How exactly does courage relate to action?

Taking action requires being courageous – to first recognize there’s a need for change and secondly to decide the risk of vulnerability is worth it!


Courage is opening yourself up, taking the risk to be emotionally seen by another person when engaging in therapy and other healthy supportive practices for psychological wellness.


Dr. Erika McElroy

Smooth Rock Psychological Services, LLC

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