How Therapy Can Support Your New Year’s Resolutions

By Vanessa Kensing, LMSW

Have you ever abandoned your New Year's resolutions before even starting? Or gotten discouraged quickly and not followed through on them? New Year’s resolutions have gotten a bad reputation and many of us no longer “do” resolutions because of past failed attempts. While change is certainly difficult, especially on your own, therapy can be a great place to take those New Year’s Resolutions and actually find success!

Here are some of the reasons why therapy is a great place to achieve your goals:

  • It's Collaborative: Therapy is a collaborative process where your therapist can help you define your goals, develop a plan for attaining them and alter them if necessary.
     
  • It's Supportive: Just like a good gym buddy, your therapist is there to encourage you and hold you accountable to meeting your goals. Likewise, if setbacks occur, your therapist is there to help you make sense of them and use them as learning experiences.
     
  • It's Realistic: Often we find ourselves discouraged because we have chosen goals that are nearly impossible in the timeframe we set. Therapy can help you select realistic goals for yourself, which will set you up for success in the future. 

Last month we published a blog on behavioral activation, which is a great approach for making positive changes. Another way we therapists help with making changes is through a process called the Stages of Change (Prochaska & DiClemente). With over 30 years of research, the Stages of Change model can help both the client and therapist visualize change as process between stages of awareness, motivation, and action.

The Stages of Change:

  • Precontemplation: no change is intended or overtly thought about
     
  • Contemplation: change is thought about in terms of pros/cons but no action is taken
     
  • Preparation: the intention to make change is imminent and a plan is formed
     
  • Action: specific and overt behavioral change is made
     
  • Maintenance: change is maintained and relapse into old behavior becomes less likely

No matter where you might be in the the Stages of Change model with regard to your New Year’s Resolution, therapy can help through collaboration, support, realistic goal setting and efficacious therapeutic technique!

Vanessa Kensing is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you would like support with changes in the new year visit www.cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more how therapy can help.