Activity: Recognizing the Readiness for Change

The purpose of this activity is to practice gauging how ready someone is to change using Motivational Interviewing.


  • video: ‘Motivational Interviewing
  • copies of the examples provided below
  • copies of relevant video slide notes
    • find these in the product details of each video linked above

Activity overview

The point of this activity is to identify the ‘state of change’ by analyzing what the woman says. Accurate analysis will allow the interviewer to respond with the best Motivational Interviewing technique, given the woman’s state of readiness.

State of change model

Precontemplation: No intention of changing behavior.

Contemplation: Aware a problem exists. No commitment to action.

Preparation: Intent upon taking action.

Action: Active modification of behavior.

Maintenance: Sustained change – new behavior replaces old.


Prochaska, J. O., DiClemente, C. C. (2005). The transtheoretical approach. In: Norcross, JC; Goldfried, MR. (eds.) Handbook of psychotherapy integration (2nd ed). New York: Oxford University Press, 147–171.

Activity instructions

Part 1 – Distribute examples


  1. My partner said he’d leave me if I didn’t come to see you.
  2. I only drink on the weekends, but sometimes I think about it all week. I want to stop but I really enjoy it.
  3. I know I should quit but I’m not sure I want to quit. What should I do?
  4. My family told me I have a drinking problem. They’re the problem, not my drinking. If everyone got off my back, I would be just fine.
  5. Now that I know I’m pregnant, I want to quit drinking. I hope my partner can quit too.
  6. My family isn’t being supportive. I guess they’ve seen this all before.
  7. I was thinking about when I used to drink and how that must have been really hard on my family.
  8. I think I might be pregnant. I haven’t had my period in a few months. My social worker says I should quit drinking just in case but I only have a couple of beers on the weekends.
  9. On one hand, I am a 35 year old woman with my own successful company. If I want to drink, I should be able to. On the other hand, I am a 35 year old woman who should know better.
  10. Sometimes I worry about the effect my drinking will have on my baby but my sister drank every day and her kids are fine.

Part 2 – Group discussion

  1. Divide into small working groups to discuss each above statement.
  2. Use the pie chart on slide 11 to accurately identify the above statements.
  3. Identify the stage of change reflected by the woman.
  4. Generate 2 or 3 statements in response that would show you are in tune with her stage of change and are attempting to meet her at that stage with suitable MI techniques.
Modified: 2015-09-09
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