Stages of Change in Financial Counseling

The Stages of Change is a tool that can be used to effectively evaluate and change financial behaviors. Programs can use the tool to measure readiness for change in specific financial management behaviors.  The tool identifies five stages of change and describes how an individual might feel when starting to approach problems in their lives. Also, the tool is designed to help pracitioners improve services and help people intentionally change their financial behavior and practices.The five stages are as follows:

  1. Pre-contemplation: At this stage, individuals typically have no intention of changing and may not have thought about it. They are unaware of their problems, while others are aware of their problems.
  2. Contemplation: At this stage, individuals are aware of the problem and intend to change sometime, but haven't decided yet when, where, or how. They may feel ambivalent about change.
  3. Preparation: At this stage, individuals intend to make necessary changes in the near future. They may have a plan and even make minor behavioral changes.
  4. Action: At this stage, individuals make the commitment of time and energy to actively make behavioral changes in order to overcome their problem. They are engaged and progressing in the change process.
  5. Maintenance: At this stage, individuals work at making changes permanent, but may need help to prevent relapse.

Prochaska et al. (1992) found that individuals usually do not move from stage to stage in a linear fashion and tend to relapse back to earlier stages multiple times before they become maintainers. 

Tool

Population
Number of Questions
2
Creator(s) of Tool
Prochaska, J.O., DiClemente, C.c. & Norcross, J.C. (1992). In search of how people change: Aspirations to addictive behaviors. American Psychologist, 47.

Kerkmann, B.C. (1998). Motivation and stages of change in financial counseling: An application of a transtheoretical model from couneling psychology. Associaion for Financial Counseling and Planning Education.
Scoring / Benchmarking
The responses to the questions will identify one of the first three stages in which the participant’s financial management behaviors are a match. An answer of "no" to both questions would indicate the participant is in the Precontemplation stage. An answer of "yes" for question 1 and "no" for question 2 would denote the participant is at the Contemplation stage. An answer of “yes" for both questions would place the participant at the Preparation stage (Prochaska et al., 1993).


The scales can be translated as follows:

Pre-contemplation: At this stage, individuals typically have no intention of changing and may not have thought about it. They are unaware of their problems, while others are aware of their problems.

Contemplation: At this stage, individuals are aware of the problem and intend to change sometime, but haven't decided yet when, where, or how. They may feel ambivalent about change.

Preparation: At this stage, individuals intend to make necessary changes in the near future. They may have a plan and even make minor behavioral changes.

Action: At this stage, individuals make the commitment of time and energy to actively make behavioral changes in order to overcome their problem. They are engaged and progressing in the change process.

Maintenance: At this stage, individuals work at making changes permanent, but may need help to prevent relapse.

The scale is designed to be a continuous measure. Thus, subjects can score high on more than one of the four stages. Also, Prochaska et al. (1992) found that individuals usually do not move from stage to stage in a linear fashion and tend to relapse back to earlier stages multiple times before they become maintainers.
Background / Quality
Psychometrics
Reliability studies done: Test-retest (interrater only); Internal consistency
Measures of validity derived: Content; Criterion (predictive, concurrent); Construct
Is there a cost associated with this tool?
No
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