Precontemplation – no thought of changing, now or later. Others who care about us may repeatedly urge us to take action on our problem but at this stage, we are deaf to their pleas.

Ignorance is bliss

“That problem is not a concern for me”


  1. Help the person to develop a reason for changing
  2. Validate the person’s experience
  3. Encourage further self-exploration
  4. Leave the door open for future conversations


Validate the person’s experience:

I can understand why you feel that way

Acknowledge the person’s control of the decision:

I don’t want to preach to you; I know that you’re an adult and you will be the one to decide if and when you are ready to make a change.

Repeat a simple, direct statement about your stand on the medical (or other) benefits of this change for the person:

I believe, based upon my training and experience, that this problem is putting you at serious risk for …., and that making this change is the most important thing you could do for your health.

Explore potential concerns:

Has this behavior ever caused you a problem?” “Can you imagine how it might cause problems in the future?

Acknowledge possible feelings of being pressured:

I know that it might feel as though I’ve been pressuring you, and I want to thank you for talking with me anyway.

Validate that they are not ready:

I hear you saying that you are nowhere near ready to make a change right now.

Restate your position that it is up to them:

It’s totally up to you to decide if this is right for you right now.

Encourage reframing of current state of change – the potential beginning of a change rather than a decision never to change:

Everyone who’s ever changed starts right where you are now; they start by seeing the reasons why they might want to change. And that’s what I’ve been talking to you about.

For More Information

Two blog posts from our sister site,, are filled with good information.

Ready for Change?

Tools for Change