How Quickly can Change be Implemented?

Posted by Dr. Nilda Perez in Change | 1 comments

Most often clients come to their first session of therapy, dump and before they leave their first session they want to know “how long will this take?” “How many sessions do you think I need? Many of these people leave prematurely because they believe all the counselor has to do is wave the magic wand and poof you are changed.

I want to share with you the process of change which is essential in understanding that ‘it takes as long as it has to take.’ Human beings are complex and they are creatures of habit. You operate through repeated functioning. Most of the time you don’t even remember doing certain things, other times you swear you did certain things because you do them habitually.

Dissatisfaction does not determine change in practices. You function through habits because it’s what you know. Even when you hate the outcome of your patterns you do not change them because you believe the lie that “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.”

Patterns of destruction can happen in marriage, with children, with friends, in workplaces and even in faith based organizations. You do things because it’s what you have done for years. And you do it because you fear change, and because you fear it you would rather stay in a miserable situation rather than suffer through changing it.

As uncomfortable as change is it must be intentional. Individuals and families need to be ready to make the necessary changes in their lives. Families need to adapt to the change and be able to function within that change. A theorist that created the most comprehensive model was Lewin.

Kurt Lewin created Lewin’s Change Management Model in the 1950’s. He noted that the majority of the people prefer to operate within the parameters of certain zones of safety.  And this is how he categories them:

Unfreeze – the majority makes an active effort to resist change. Because most people struggle with change in order to overcome the tendency they go through a thawing out period which is begun through motivation.

Change – at the moment change is initiated, the individual or family quickly moves into a transitional period. With adequate support and reassurance from a therapist the process can be successful.

Refreeze – once the change has been embraced and successfully implemented, the family stabilizes once again and refreezes as they operate under new guidelines.

Although Lewin’s model is most often used in organizations whose leadership is desiring change this can just as easily be applied to families since they also operate under the same principles and the dynamics are much the same.

This chart explains Lewin’s Change Model in individuals and in families:




Unfreeze Motivated to change Members must be motivated to make changes and to learn how function with other members changes
Change Making the transition to change the new habit. Must continually remind him/herself that they are in a transitional period Members must be reminded of the implementation of changes during the transitional period until it becomes a habit
Refreeze The habit is formed and the individual is stabilized once again The family has adjusted to changes and are now operating under new guidelines

Forming new ways of operating is difficult under the best of circumstances. Even when you are aware that maintaining the old bad habits is detrimental to you and your household change is painful. But if you have dependable support you or your family can get through the most difficult times.

Dr. Nilda Perez

Comments (1)
  1. Hilario says:

    Marty Excellent comments.I stlgnory agree with all your points. After 35+ years in business I now consult to businesses regarding change and performance, etc. and I am also an Adjunct University Instructor where I teach both Graduates and Undergraduates Leading Organizational Change I stlgnory emphasize and integrate your key points in terms of transition and implementation frankly I often say anybody can lead change (although in reality that is not really true), but what is the real challenge is managing the transition in a way that is sustainable and of course that is where the breakdown so often happens. I greatly appreciate your affirmation of my long time beliefs Kotters and Bridges work are great models and guidance thanks for sharing.Virg

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