Academic journal article Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development

Examining Readiness for Change: A Preliminary Evaluation of the University of Rhode Island Change Assessment with Incarcerated Adolescents

Academic journal article Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development

Examining Readiness for Change: A Preliminary Evaluation of the University of Rhode Island Change Assessment with Incarcerated Adolescents

Article excerpt

The authors describe use and development of the University of Rhode Island Change Assessment (E. I. McConnaughy, J. O. Prochaska, & W. F. Velicer, 1983) and examine the psychometric properties of scores from incarcerated male adolescents. Cluster analysis revealed 3 unique profiles (Precontemplators, Participators, and Undifferentiated). Implications for clinical use with adolescent populations are discussed.

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In order for behavioral change to occur through counseling or psychotherapy, the client needs to demonstrate some level of readiness for change. It is theorized that clients typically move through a series of sequential stages when reducing usage of undesirable behaviors (e.g., smoking, overeating) or increasing usage of adaptive strategies (e.g., addressing psychological problems, resolving conflict prosocially). Although accurate assessment of a client's readiness for change has significant therapeutic utility, only a few such measures have been developed. The present study examines how appropriate the widely influential University of Rhode Island Change Assessment (URICA; McConnaughy, Prochaska, & Velicer, 1983) is for measuring readiness for change in incarcerated adolescents receiving counseling services.

TRANSTHEORETICAL MODEL OF BEHAVIOR CHANGE

Although typically referred to as the "stages of change model," this is only one aspect of the larger transtheoretical model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1984). As suggested by its name, the transtheoretical model incorporates several theories and aspects related to behavior change, including the processes of changing, potential benefits and drawbacks of changing, temptations, and self-efficacy (Velicer, Prochaska, Rossi, & DiClemente, 1996). The stages of change model is the central component of the transtheoretical model and continues to be popular with clinicians and researchers, primarily in the addictions field (Sutton, 2001).

Some of the earliest published research on the stages-of-change process comes from the addictions and behavioral health fields. Counselors and health practitioners documented the change process as it related to reductions in undesirable or unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and alcohol abuse. Specifically, Horn (1976) observed that the following four stages were associated with the process of change in health behavior modification: contemplating change, deciding to change, short-term change, and long-term change.

Extending earlier work on the stages of change, other researchers (e.g., McConnaughy et al., 1983; Prochaska & DiClemente, 1982) put forth a more detailed five-stage model of change, which included precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance (described in detail as follows). Each stage represents a specific collection of attitudes, intentions, and behaviors that are typical of individuals at that stage (Prochaska & Norcross, 1999).

Although it is possible that an individual may proceed through the stages of change in a linear fashion, setbacks or relapses are common. When relapses do occur, the individual may regress to an earlier stage. According to Prochaska and DiClemente (1984), 85% of self-changers (i.e., those attempting change without assistance) recycle back into the contemplation or precontemplation stage. Despite relapses, individuals may learn from their mistakes and again move toward change (DiClemente et al., 1991).

Although most commonly used for making health-related behavior change, such as reductions in substance abuse, the stages-of-change theory and corresponding measures hold promise for use for with psychotherapy clients (Greenstein, Franklin, & McGuffin, 1999; McConnaughy, DiClemente, Prochaska, & Velicer, 1989). Administering a measure of readiness for change early in the therapeutic process may help the clinician gauge the client's acknowledgment of the problem and commitment to the change process. …

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