Change can be a dirty word.
The very thought of it can strike terror in the hearts of even the most fearless of us!
Change is a mystery.
Changing behavior, thoughts, and feelings can be a quick process that occurs after one attempt, a slow process that takes a lot of time and repeated effort, or somewhere between those two extremes.
For some people, even repeatedly experiencing the most negative consequences of self-defeating behavior is not enough for them to change. And no one seems to know exactly why that is.
The good news is that research shows that the likelihood of making and maintaining a change INCREASES with every attempt made. Yet, most people tend to become increasingly demoralized with each unsuccessful attempt to make and maintain a change.
Knowledge alone does not predict or create change.
Think of the number of persons diagnosed with diabetes or cardiac disease who struggle to follow dietary and exercise guidelines, the number of persons diagnosed with cancer who can’t stop smoking, people who text while driving, and the list goes on and on. Do you think those people lack knowledge of the consequences of those decisions?
Problem recognition is the first essential ingredient of change.
Changing self-defeating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors requires awareness that they are self-defeating.
Like knowledge, problem recognition alone does not guarantee that a change attempt will be made.
Commitment to change is the second essential ingredient of change.
Change requires a decision or a promise to do something.
Commitment can’t happen without problem recognition.
If only commitment was a constant…
Most, if not all, human beings experience levels of commitment that fluctuate. When I’m trying to lose weight, there are times I choose to eat just one slice of pizza or skip the hot fudge brownie sundae.
At other times, I’ll eat half of the pizza, or maybe I’ll eat the slice of pizza AND the hot fudge brownie sundae!
Commitment without a specific, realistic, and time-bound plan is not likely to accomplish much.
A promise or firm decision to do something is useless without a workable plan. If you never learned to swim, would you decide you’d learn by diving into a swimming pool from the high dive?
It’s not just about stopping or changing; it’s also about staying stopped or maintaining the desired change.
It’s like the old Mark Twain saying, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”
My process of individual therapy…
Generally speaking, the process begins by identifying how you would like things to be different in your life or what your specific goals for therapy are. We’ll typically spend two or three sessions while I learn as much about you as possible.
We will develop a good understanding of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that prevent you from having your best quality of life. We will also discuss the experiences that shaped and continue to shape your beliefs about yourself, about others, and about the world in general.
This is the part of the work that focuses on problem recognition and allows us to establish priorities and goals more accurately.
And then we’ll talk about commitment
The commitment part of the work identifies brainstorming various specific tools and strategies that maximize the likelihood of achieving your goals. We’ll also identify potential roadblocks that might arise during the change process and develop a plan for dealing with those roadblocks.
We’ll monitor your level of commitment to ensure you’re moving closer and closer to your goals. We will add or modify goals as needed during our work together.
Finally, when you achieve your goals, the focus shifts to identifying and using tools and strategies that maximize the likelihood of maintaining the changes you’ve made.
I wear many hats during this process: sometimes I’m a guide, sometimes a coach, sometimes a teacher, sometimes a follower, and sometimes a cheerleader.
Let’s work to create lasting change in you.
We can demystify change and make it a positive experience. If you’re thinking about changing your life for the better, I am happy to be your most enthusiastic partner.
Contact me today! Please complete the form below or call me at (908) 393-6300.