How to Inspire Motivation Through Change

Inspiring Change

Sometimes finding motivation for what we know we need to do is hard. It can make us even more depressed or anxious about change if we feel we have no motivation for it. Maybe we wonder what is really wrong with us. Is this really just our personality? Probably not. Finding motivation is a challenge for everyone whether it’s a constant challenge or just an occasional thing. We can actually inspire motivation through change, even if that seems backward. There’s a lot of science that goes into the process of changing ourselves psychologically. The stages of change are important to understand when it comes to motivation inspired by change in recovery.

What Are the Stages of Change?

The “Stages of Change” model was first introduced in the 1970s. It attempted to explain the process of change in humans as occurring in stages and not all at once. Two researchers – James Prochaska, Ph.D. and Carlo DiClimente, Ph.D. set out to define these stages. They tested and refined the model until it became the most widely-used and accepted model in addiction treatment.

The model describes the six stages of change as follows:

  1. Pre-Contemplation: The person is aware they have an addiction and are aware of its harmful effects. Still, they have little motivation for changing as they view using as more beneficial than sobriety.
  2. Contemplation: The person is aware of the adverse effects that using is causing them. They see sobriety as the most effective option however, they may lack confidence in their change.
  3. Preparation: The person acknowledges responsibility for change in their behavior. They may begin developing a plan, asking for support, or building confidence.
  4. Action: The person consciously makes an effort towards changing their behaviors. This can include going to rehab or engaging in self-directed change efforts. 
  5. Maintenance: The person has developed self-control and healthier behavioral patterns. They can maintain these changes with less effort as well. 
  6. Termination: The person has established full lifestyle and behavior changes. They don’t succumb to urges or impulses and make healthier life decisions.

It’s important to remember that relapse can occur at any stage in this model. The purpose of the beginning stages of therapy should be developing motivation rather than trying to change behaviors. 

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy meant to help motivate patients in recovery to live in the moment, develop healthy coping strategies, and improve interpersonal relationships. It also strives to help patients find a balance between change and acceptance. DBT incorporates a philosophical process called dialectics. Dialectics states that everything is composed of opposites and change occurs when there is a “dialogue” between opposing forces. DBT can be administered in group settings, individual therapy, and even telehealth. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is sometimes incorporated into DBT. MI is a technique in which a trained interviewer becomes a facilitator of the change process and expresses acceptance towards an addict. MI has two primary goals: 1) to increase a person’s motivation and 2) to guide the person towards a commitment to change. MI works just like any other therapy session. A motivational interviewer tries to influence a dialogue towards why the person needs or wants to change. This method can be effective for those who do not voluntarily seek treatment, as the interviewer reflects the person’s thoughts back to them to initiate introspective thinking.

Finding Motivation in Self-Education

A person’s belief in their own ability to change is essential in motivation toward addiction recovery. Self-education is one way to foster self-efficacy. Credible, understandable, and timely information helps people understand how their addiction drives some of their behaviors or impacts their life. This gives them an idea of where to start changing their behaviors. They begin to see which actions trigger their cravings the most, or which ones help them overcome their triggers the best. 

There are a few techniques to help support self-efficacy in recovery:

  1. Give the patient hope by explaining there is no “right way” to change.
  2. Help the patient believe that they can improve by inquiring about other successful changes they’ve made in the past and complimenting their success.
  3. Explore barriers that may cause low self-confidence in patients such as trauma or psychological issues.
  4. Share examples of others’ success in addiction recovery. No one wants to feel like they are the only one experiencing something.

Ultimately, people need an empathetic, non-judgmental person who will help them develop motivation toward recovery. A motivational interviewer becomes this person as they approach their patient with respect and act as a reflector of thoughts and behaviors. It’s also vital that patients understand their role in recovery as an active player they are responsible for their own success. By supporting them with empathy and education, we can help them overcome their own ambivalence. 

Everyone has trouble with motivation from time to time, but it can be especially hard for those with substance abuse or mental health disorders. Negative emotions and low self-esteem can dampen any inclination to make the necessary changes to live a more fulfilling life. Avalon Malibu offers Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, as well as other therapies beneficial for cultivating motivation and overcoming negative emotions. Located in beautiful Malibu, California, we offer a full range of complementary, behavioral and experiential therapies. Our experienced and compassionate staff will work with you to develop a plan of care that suits your unique needs and guides you on the path to lasting recovery. Our comprehensive program offers a continuum of care that provides support as you return to the community. To learn more about our treatment options and how our highly trained staff can help you throughout your recovery journey, call us today at (844) 857-5992.


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