Source: Adapted from Prochaska et al, 1992.
Preventing or lowering the risk of STDs often requires changing
behavior, which can be a slow and difficult process. However,
effective counseling can support behavioral change. Social scientists
have found that individuals tend to move through various stages
in changing behavior. It is important that providers recognize
First, individuals must become aware of the problem, such as
the danger of STDs, and understand that certain behaviors put
them at risk. Then, they must be motivated to change their risky
behavior. Using skills acquired through counseling, they can
then try the new behavior. In the case of STD prevention, the
new behavior might be consistent use of condoms. Ideally, individuals
will evaluate and then sustain this new behavior. In some cases,
changes are not sustained and a person must repeat the process.
This often happens when an individual begins a relationship
with a new sexual partner.
Counselors should adapt their messages to take into account
where each client is in the behavioral change process.