January is a month for contemplation and preparation, the second and third stages in Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change model. It’s not necessarily about action at this point. And you don’t have to have hit a bottom or be desperate. It’s just about being as ready as you are right now. Instead, January is a great month for setting intentions, getting a focus, and changing your expectations in preparation for a new, healthier way of life.
At White Picket Fence Counseling Center, our clients who are recovering from eating disorders can start out by feeling unmotivated, so we look to find the unique tools and strategies that will appeal to them and that are going to ultimately help them stay with their new course of action. First, we work together with them to look at their thought processes, listening respectfully and seeing how we can bring about a shift towards self-empowerment and self-activation. This will spark their own internal motivation to change.
As therapists, we’re there to help guide people, not to do it for you, but give you our professional expertise and support you on the path. This might mean teaching you how to change your own self-talk from negative to neutral. It might mean providing some education about creating a healthier, more balanced food plan – something that will also have a very positive effect on your thinking!
We encourage flexibility and patience, even while providing concrete structure and guidelines. For example, new clients often pledge to go right home to clean out their fridge. Personally, I’ve found that when making changes I’m much more successful when I ease into things, rather than making a quick start. Sometimes when I’ve made a quick start I’ve made just as quick a jump back.
Whether you’re feeling stuck, or raring to go with new plans for the new year, it’s important to build a solid foundation and not skip any of the steps of the change process. New clients want to know, “How many sessions will it take until I’m better?” Changes don’t happen overnight; these things take time and work. Everyone has their own rate and speed. Consider how long you may have been building up the habits you have now. Give yourself time to change, and give the process time to work. You do deserve this!