Feeling frustrated about your mental health journey? Maybe you’re stuck on what your next steps might be or concerned you’re not making any progress. One way to help understand where you are in your mental health journey and what next steps to take is by identifying where you are in the “Stages of Change” cycle.

What Are Stages of Change?

According to the National Institute of Health (2023), the Stages of Change model is one of the most used theoretical models and clinical frameworks used in mental health treatment. The Stages of Change model can be applied to a broad spectrum of mental health practices such as addiction and mental health diagnoses.

The Stages of Change model goes through five stages:

  • Precontemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance


If you’re in the precontemplation phase you may be unmotivated and believe that there is not a problem to begin with. It could be that friends are reaching out to you saying that you are using substances like alcohol too frequently and you disagree. This stage could also look like excessively crying, not being able to identify why and normalizing the problem.


You see there’s a problem but are not yet ready to move forward. Yes, your friends are right you might be indulging in substance use too much or committing to risky behaviors, but you’re still not ready to make that change. You identify that maybe your friends are right and maybe you do need help.


In this stage you decide to start looking for therapists that take your insurance, or programs like our Partial Hospitalization Program and Intensive Outpatient Program to get some help moving forward in your mental health journey. You start planning what next steps that you need to take.


It’s action time! You’re booking appointments for therapy, signing up for therapy groups, finding a psychiatrist and a nutritionist/ dietician if needed. You’re on a roll!


This is the stage where you keep up with all of your action items. You’re attending therapy groups and needed appointments. You’re taking your medication as prescribed and have decreased isolation habits.

What If I Relapse into a Previous Stage?

Give yourself some grace and self-care. It happens to the best of us. Sometimes we have to take a step backwards to make a leap forward. Just because you might make a mistake doesn’t mean it’s the end. It’s just a new beginning.

About Austin Oaks Hospital

Austin Oaks Hospital is a professional facility servicing those with mental health needs in Austin, Texas. We offer a continuum of psychiatric services for adults and adolescents. We provide a warm and welcoming environment that promotes crisis resolution, positive self-awareness, personal growth and social skills. Some conditions we help to treat are major depression, PTSD, anxiety and obsessive disorders, and more.

We utilize a combination of individual and group treatments to improve our patients chances for a successful recovery. Our patients also gain support from our trained team as well as their peers. Some of our services include our adult and adolescent programs, as well as our expressive therapy and women’s wellness program.

To schedule a no-cost assessment or for more information, please call 512-440-4800.