Readiness to Quit

Behaviour change doesn’t happen in one step, unfortunately. An individual wanting to quit tobacco slides through stages of change, back and forth, at their own pace.  How you approach this client could make or break the trust the client feels in the relationship created, and their confidence in working with you as their coach.  I’ve put together some coaching strategies that fit with each stage of change:

Client’s Stage of Change Description Coaching Strategy
Pre-contemplation Client is unaware of problem with tobacco use, and therefore has no intention of changing their behaviour Ask permission to provide info and/or handouts and provide general information about benefits of quitting specific to client

Invite to work with you in the future

Contemplation Aware of problem with tobacco use, but unsure they would like to change

Client expresses how they think and feel about themselves and the tobacco use

Reinforce previous attempts to quit, and get the client talking about what they like about smoking, and then what they don’t like, closing the conversation with them telling you what they don’t like so they leave with that on their mind
Preparation Client has made a commitment to quit tobacco use Assist and support the client’s plan and discuss the details

Encourage the client to put their plan in writing using a Personalized Quit Plan

Action Client believes they can quit and they are actively changing their behaviour and achieving their goals Assist and support the person to succeed

Discuss what is going well, and then coach on challenges allowing the client to come up with their own solutions

Maintenance Client is maintaining their new tobacco free lifestyle, avoiding temptations to smoke and old ways of thinking and acting

This includes behaviour change from quit date to six months after the quit date


Continue to encourage the client, and help plan for slips or relapse

Discuss self-sabotage and assist the client to deal with it

If a slip occurs, help the client get back on track



Relapse Relapse or reverting to old ways is normal, and should be used as learning experiences. 

No judgement, just curiosity

Help the client understand the circumstances that caused the slip or relapse so they can effectively deal with it in the future

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