Think about a behavior change you would like to make that would improve your health. Now, how ready are you to jump in and make that change?
The Transtheoretical Model, also known as the Stages of Change Model, explains an individual’s readiness to change their behavior. It describes the process of behavior change as occurring in the following stages:
- Precontemplation (not ready)
- Contemplation (getting ready)
- Preparation (ready)
- Action (making change)
- Maintenance (keeping up the change)
While progression can occur in a linear fashion, a nonlinear progression is common. Often, individuals recycle through the stages or regress to earlier stages from later ones.
Let's put this in the context of the dads you serve.
Some dads might enter your program not even aware that they need help being better dads (e.g. if they are forced to attend the program), while others might be aware they need to change but don’t know where to start. Still other dads might already be good dads (i.e. they are involved most or all of the time in their children’s lives) and are simply looking to become even better dads.
So, how can you leverage the Transtheoretical Model to achieve better outcomes with the dads you serve?
Provide less intensive ways to inspire dads. Dads who are in the precontemplation stage aren’t ready to jump into an intensive, group-based program. Using less intensive types of resources (e.g. brochures, tip cards, and guides) can help raise dads’ awareness of the need to build their fathering skills. This will increase the likelihood of them seeing value and engaging in a more intensive, group-based fatherhood program in the future.
Offer a group-based fatherhood program. No two dads are at the exact point of readiness for change when it comes to responsible fatherhood, so by having a group of dads you can encourage those who are in the later stages to mentor ones in earlier stages. Conversely, dads in earlier stages can help other dads stay accountable and avoid complacency developing their fathering skills.
The 24/7 Dad® program of National Fatherhood Initiative® (NFI), for example, helps dads in the earlier stages to progress toward becoming involved and, eventually, maintaining their involvement (i.e. being a 24/7 Dad) and dads in the later stages to further cement their involvement.
Create alumni and mentoring opportunities. Alumni and mentoring programs are wonderful ways to keep dads in preparation, action, and maintenance stages involved in your organization’s father engagement efforts. Moreover, dads in these programs become a wonderful support for dads in the precontemplation and contemplation stages.
To help you provide alumni and mentoring opportunities, check out the following free NFI resources: Creating An Alumni Program for Fatherhood Program Graduates, A Guide to Mentoring Fathers, and A Guide to Mentoring Fatherless Children. These resources can help you harness the expertise of more experienced dads to improve your program outcomes.
Understanding the Transtheoretical Model will help you design a more dynamic fatherhood program. It will ensure the most relevant resources, program, and peer-to-peer networks that meet dads where they are, but with an eye towards manageable and meaningful growth.
Have you used the Transtheoretical Model to inform your fatherhood work?
If yes, in which ways has it improved your outcomes?
If no, which of the tactics above can you incorporate into your fatherhood work?