Please join me for the free webinar, “When Someone Doesn’t Want to Change – Motivation and Counseling,” this Thursday September 10th at 1pm EST.

“Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a couple dozen times,” captures well the pattern of trying to change any unwanted but enjoyable behavior. We want to, but we don’t. We’re motivated, but we’re not. We think we should, but wish people would just leave us alone.

That is what this webinar is about – assessing where someone is in their motivation to change SO THAT our approach to helping them change meets them where they are instead of (legitimately) where they should be. Much of pastoral counseling and Christian ministry assumes that the individual seeking help is ready to receive instruction and application. If we get ahead of the person seeking help, we can be both “right” and “ineffective.”

This mindset described above is called “ambivalence” – feeling two contradictory emotions about the same thing. Even if we didn’t know what ambivalence was, we’re good at it. Ambivalence captures much of the dilemma we’ll be trying to navigate in this webinar.

Read James 1:5-8. This is often a guilt passage. We read it and think, “If it applies to me, I should freak out because it sounds really bad.” Start with verse five and realize this passage begins with presenting God as generous. God is not upset about supplying what we need in our double-minded moments. This will help you not doubt that there is hope for your fickle desire to change (v. 6). God is a gentleman. He won’t change us against our will (v. 7). But God is also loving and warns us against the dangers of our double-minded tendency.

We will look at five levels of motivation to change developed by Carlo DiClemente in Addictions and Change. In the parentheses, we’ll map out how these correlate with the nine step journey of a G4 group. Your goal in this reflection is to answer the question, “Where is my counselee’s level of motivation?” so that you can determine the approach to take in counseling them.

1. Pre-Contemplation (before you started)

This is the stage when you don’t anticipate making any changes in the foreseeable future because you don’t think change is needed. You are probably annoyed and offended if someone suggests that you change. “Change” as a concept is either not on your radar or is met with resistance instead of consideration.

  • Approach: Rolling with Resistance
  • This is the phase where the “tough love” and “rock bottom” approach is commonly used.

2. Contemplation (Step 1)

Now you are beginning to believe that change might be beneficial. Sometimes you think it would be, other times you think change is unnecessary. You are trying to decide if change is “possible,” and, if so, if it’s “worth it.” You want to know what would be required and whether these sacrifices would produce a more satisfying life than continuing to neglect them.

  • Approach: Tipping the Scale of Decisional Balance
  • Question: What would you have to give up if you committed to change?

3. Preparation (Steps 2-4)

In this phase your consideration becomes more concrete. You gather the information necessary to enact an effective and sustainable plan. You assess obstacles; both logistical (external) and motivational (internal). You begin to enlist people to come alongside of you for the journey.

  • Approach: Clarifying the Path
  • This is the phase at which the instincts of Christian ministry begin to serve us well.

4. Action (Steps 5-7)

At this point plans come to life; ideas become choices. Progress is made and setbacks are navigated. There are successes and failures, but the trajectory of your journey is forward. Techniques become habits and habits become a lifestyle. The roles once filled by your addiction or dysfunction are now filled with healthier and more satisfying ways of managing life.

  • Approach: Practical Guide on the Journey
  • This is the phase that is usually most satisfying for the counselor and the counselee.

5. Maintenance (Steps 8-9)

A new lifestyle is embraced. Increasingly your emotions and thought patterns conform to this new lifestyle. Your vice is no longer your “reward or escape of choice” so you are enjoying life. At this stage you begin the work of restoring relationships and pursuing interests that were damaged or made impossible by the destructive choices you were making.

  • Approach: Creating a Context for Sustained Change and an Enjoyable Life
  • This is where we strive to create a life climate hospitable to holiness and inhospitable to dysfunction.

Exercise: In the margin beside these five levels of motivation write “today” beside where your motivation is now. Write significant dates or events in the margin that came to mind when you read each description. Realize that every relapse is an opportunity to learn. There is no shame in falling; only quitting.

If you have multiple areas of life to change, you may not be in the same place –motivationally speaking – with each one of them. Be honest about that so you can weigh the implications of tackling your addictions one at a time versus all at once. In the chart below list areas of change in the left-hand column. Then for each one place an “x” under the stage of change that best represents where you are.

Goal to Change Pre-Contemplation Contemplation Preparation Action Maintenance

Webinar Invitation

Please join me for the free webinar, “When Someone Doesn’t Want to Change – Motivation and Counseling,” Thursday September 10th at 1pm EST.

My goal in this twice-monthly series of free webinars is to teach one primary counseling concept or skill each month and then provide a case study that allows participants to become more proficient at utilizing that skill or concept.

These are great events for:

  • Pastors, chaplains, and ministry leaders looking to enhance their pastoral care skills
  • Counselors wanting CEU credits to help them learn more about the intersection of their faith and practice
  • Leaders in church-based counseling ministries looking to grow in their case wisdom
  • Undergraduate students looking to discern a calling to vocational ministry or a career as a professional counselor
  • Friends and small group leaders committed to walking faithfully alongside their peers in tough times

Note: If you want to participate in many or most of the webinars in this series, when you RSVP click “auto subscribe to all future webinars,” so you don’t have to keep up with registering for each event.