When it comes to behavior change it can be a struggle for some people to even start, let alone stick with it.
The main obstacle is ambivalence. Most people know what to do to be healthier, and what would improve their mood, energy, actions and so forth. At the same time they know that making changes takes time, energy, effort and motivation, and you can easily start down the wrong path if you do not know what you doing.Most people tend to feel two ways about change - "I want to" and "I don't want to" and that's as far as it goes. It is here that counseling can help you get unstuck from just thinking about making changes and start actually doing it This comes about when they discover their own reasons and self determination that will provide them the motivation and direction on the path.
Counseling highlights Ambivalence
In the current research and in my own practice, it has been shown that most people don't just need information of what to do or not do, they need true, long term motivation. The motivation for change is a central issue for the success of any goal, and the same is true within the counseling session. Often anxiety and ambivalence about change can emerge as resistance to even starting, and hinder the very actions you may need to take. As this is reflected in the counseling session, so it is in your life.
To address this in my practice I have learned a new way to motivate clients to address ambivalence about embracing healthy lifestyle changes using a counseling style called motivational interviewing. This approach can guide clients to recognize their own reasons for change, which adds the needed motivation to commit to plans for change.
A closer look at the Path4Change Counseling Process
The approach is simple, the Path4Change looks at the decisions you need to make about change as a conversation, not a directive. By first listening to what you need and want with empathy and understanding, I help clients to become more aware of their own reasons are, both for and against change. Most people don't resist change out of ignorance (they don't need to be told what to do), but because of genuine obstacles and feeling unsure of what to do next. By learning more about what you want, and hearing more about the obstacles you face, I can guide you in addressing those obstacles and help you create your own change plan that you can implement, having discovered your own motivation that can propel you forward, rather than peter out from your own internal resistance. It is amazing how long people can remain in a place of ambivalence. There is nothing surprising about this as, as that is human nature. With the Path4Change people can get out of that Forest of Indecision and make the important changes that are calling them to act.
Ambivalence to Change
Nobody likes to be told what to do so. When people take on a directive approach it often provokes defensiveness, and will not have the needed drive and initiative, as it may not be your goal to begin with. I use a client-centered approach which emphasizes that you are making decisions about your path, and I am brought along to help you do that. By respecting and valuing your decision process, ideas and needs, we will work together to strengthen your motivation for change together.
But sometimes a client does need new information to make an informed decision, or need a better way of approaching a problem. At this stage I may ask if I can share information with you or provide you an alternative coping skill that may be useful. Once introduced I will follow up with an open-ended inquiry to see how this information fits with your values and beliefs, and you will evaluate the effectiveness.
By asking permission to provide you more information, this will increase your motivation and autonomy, as it is something that you want to add into your life. Then by following up with an open-ended questions will you give the opportunity to evaluate and respond to the changes.
The final step is commitment and action, where we will reflect on how your plan of action is showing up, based on your thoughts and feelings and YOUR reasons for change. Research shows people respond best to their own words, there own motivation for change, and what they believe, rather than what others say.