Behavioral Change Models and Theories

Topic: Behaviorism
Words: 1405 Pages: 5


Behavioral change involves effectively transforming one’s habits and actions. Behaviors may become deeply rooted and develop into habitual behaviors that people execute without realizing. As a result, there may be a significant complication in the process of modifying the habits. Therefore, it is beneficial to comprehend the models and theories of behavioral change to develop successful approaches for behavior transformation. Furthermore, the best way to develop interventions that result in behavior is to have a firm grasp of behavior change paradigms and the capacity to apply them.

Numerous constructs underpin human learning theories and behavior change processes. For instance, in increasing healthy eating among an adolescent with bulimia, an understanding of the behavior change model, such as the transtheoretical model, is crucial. Accordingly, the transtheoretical model has been used to help improve the eating habit of a 19-year-old girl called “Amy” with Bulimia. Consequently, bulimia is a cognitive eating disorder characterized by abnormal eating sessions, in particular, consuming a large amount of food in one meal. A person has no control over what they are eating during these binge episodes. Bulimia victims often have their weight within acceptable limits. They may, however, be frightened of gaining weight, want to reduce muscular mass, and be unhappy with their appearance.


Transtheoretical Model

The transtheoretical approach explains transformation as a sequence of stages that occur according to an individual’s level of motivation rather than as a single occurrence. The transtheoretical approach considers change as a process with six phases. Precontemplation is a phase in which individuals do not aim to make a significant shift in the near term (Friman et al., 2017). Contemplation is the stage during which individuals aspire to change (within half a year) (Friman et al., 2017). Individuals at this stage are conscious of the importance of change and can identify the disadvantages. Preparation refers to the stage at which individuals have a course of action in mind and aim to undertake in the coming months (within a month) (Friman et al., 2017). Action is the phase when individuals alter their behavior, whereas the stage of maintenance is when individuals attempt to avoid relapse (Friman et al., 2017). Finally, relapse refers to when people may go back to their previous behavior and continue doing so. (Friman et al., 2017). This is the hardest stage to maintain, which is why many individuals spend their whole lives in maintenance.

The approach evaluates transformation as a temporal aspect that occurs across time. An individual’s shift from being bulimic to healthy eating pattern behaviors is an excellent illustration of temporal transformation. Notably, it is critical to examine both the practice of planning to change with time and the behavior itself when analyzing behavior. Although this takes a person time to develop from one phase to the next varies, as the mechanisms necessary to hasten processes of decision-making and self-efficiency are limited.

Precontemplation Stage

This is the fundamental phase of denial or reluctance to acknowledge or deal with the eating condition. At this stage, “Amy” cannot see or recognize that she has bad eating habits. Precisely, Amy is convinced that she is completely fine and would only alter her habit if her parents put her under a lot of pressure to quit her behavior or if they take her to a therapist. At this transtheoretical stage, “Amy” may want to change but fail to show signs of willingness to seek treatment or discuss major steps that will lead to change in the behavior.

Assisting “Amy” in changing her behavior at this stage involves maintaining close contact with her friends and family and discussing issues unrelated to her eating condition. Additionally, it is critical to avoid arguing, undue pressure, begging, direct guidance, and logical problems. These will just reinforce denial and reluctance to change her eating behavior. Later, it is important to educate the family on matters concerning eating disorders and treatment, medical outcomes, and nutrition and offer learning materials.

Contemplation Stage

This stage might take a long time to come to an end. Contemplation is centered on serious thought of taking action to change. Individuals who suffer from eating disorders such as bulimia often feel dissatisfied with their body size and shape. At the same time, they usually experience low self-esteem, making them take a long time to contemplate the benefits of change. Weighing the rewards of recovery against the challenges that change might bring. At this stage, it is important to adopt active listening and encourage “Amy” to share her thoughts and feelings about her eating disorder and recovery. Moreover, it is also critical to investigate the obstacles of restoration and alternate problem-solving solutions. Discuss potential courses of action without putting pressure on executing them. Finally, a bit of advice to consider the negative effects of an eating problem when it arises would also help “Amy” make crucial adjustments.

Preparation Stage

This stage links intention to action, where there is gradual realization and experiences that the rewards of remission outweigh the drawbacks of the eating problem. “Amy’s” perspective on the benefits of healthy eating habits versus bad eating habits shifts at this point. It is therefore important to ask “Amy” what information she finds useful or not. Furthermore, suggest helping develop a simple strategy for symptom relief or inquiring if she would like you to take part in any manner, for example, eating meals jointly, or chatting through stressful periods. Propose to chat about the problems of recovering and brainstorm ideas for these challenges.

Action Stage

This is a phase in which a person actively pursues recovery. The person is in therapy and is taking meaningful actions to improve behavior and attitudes, as well as address basic issues. However, because rehabilitation is not linear, recurrence and setbacks are unavoidable at this stage. At this stage, treatment strategies are put in place to help in recovery. Here, antidepressants can be administered to help in the treatment of bulimia. Hospitalization may also be beneficial, although this is not common (Friman, 2017). However, in severe forms of bulimia, one may be admitted to a clinic for a brief period. Outpatient therapy is available in the majority of eating disorder regimens. Encourage “Amy” to take chances, make errors, explore, and attempt and fail. Assure her that rehabilitation is a matter of “two steps ahead, one step back.”

Maintenance Stage

This stage seeks to prevent recurrence as well as reinforce and sustain recovery. Throughout this period, “Amy” will reconstruct her life-it takes time! It is important to encourage the utilization of support services such as family-based treatment and interpersonal psychotherapy. It is also essential to prevent treatment from being stopped too soon. If this period of treatment is terminated, the victim may lack the practice needed to maintain long-term healing. Additionally, it is important to establish new interests and identify various signs of relapse (Friman et al., 2017). Finally, “Amy” may need to be provided with coping skills, since this a new behavior that can easily cause challenges.

Relapse Stage

Relapses are an unavoidable component of the rehabilitation process. The stage is critical for people to learn from their mistakes. Relapses do not indicate failure but rather reflect a challenging region that requires further practice, help, problem-solving, or research. This stage needs encouraging rather than applying excessive pressure and arguments (Friman et al., 2017). When a relapse of the eating disorder occurs, it is important to consider other support systems, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. This sort of therapy teaches one how to eat normally and how to spot triggers for bingeing and purging. As they occur, one confronts erroneous beliefs and harmful habits.


Human behavior is very complicated, and a myriad of concepts and theories have been devised to explain it. Theories and models attempt to explain many elements of what influences our choices and behavior, such as how people absorb information, make judgments, and evaluate details throughout the decision-making process. The most widely used theories are the social cognitive theory, the transtheoretical model, and the planned behavior theory. Planned behavior theory enables people to comprehend how human behavior may change. Since the model implies that conduct is purposeful, it anticipates intentional behavior. When forecasting future conduct, social cognitive theory considers an individual’s previous behavior, perceptions, social setting, and physical environment. When individuals believe they can accomplish the desired behavior, they commence and sustain it. Finally, people should assess the most appropriate theory to adopt in light of the modified behavior.


Friman, M., Huck, J., & Olsson, L. E. (2017). Transtheoretical model of change during travel behavior interventions: An integrative review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(6), 581. Web.

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