Can I really change?

Can I really change?

By: Sara Y. Arce, LMHC, CAP

There is no question you can change. The real questions you should be asking yourself are “do you want to change?” and “what is it that really matters to you?”. There are many widely accepted theories on the process of change and what causes people to make lasting change. In my experience, in order for real change to occur, a person needs to have both a desire to change and something to change for.

Since 2008, I have been working in the mental health and substance abuse field both as a therapist and administrator. I’ve worked with countless individuals who were forced into a treatment program by their spouse, parents, the legal system, etc. Over and over I watched my clients families become frustrated because their loved one “didn’t get it” or “didn’t care”. So many times I would explain that their loved one will change when they are ready, a hard reality to accept.

Treatment is more beneficial to a client who is committed to and has internal motivation for change. Clients who are ready for change are open to honest feedback about their behavior, beliefs and weaknesses. They work on self evaluation constantly and are always trying to learn from their mistakes. Most importantly, they have something they want to work for. Often times, this motivation comes in the form of the desire to repair broken relationships, avoid serious consequences, or regain a sense of purpose in life.

Once a person decides they truly want to be different and find something that is meaningful to them, they will begin to take the steps that allow them to make lasting change. It’s important to remember that change is not something that occurs overnight, and in many cases will take years of maintenance of that behavior before it becomes a way of life. Nonetheless, there is hope for real change, I’ve seen it and I’ve experienced it.

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