Assessing Motivation for Change

It is important to be able to assess and address this whole system of beliefs in order to help people achieve their goals, or do so ourselves. Plans and actions cannot be effectively carried out if there is too much conflict or doubt. On the other hand, as the placebo effect demonstrates, empowering beliefs and assumptions can release capabilities and 'unconscious competencies' that are inherent in a particular person or group, but which have not yet been mobilized.

One way to determine the motivation of a person or group is to make an assessment of the five key beliefs we have identified as relevant to the process of change. The beliefs can be assessed by making a specific statement of the belief as illustrated in the following examples:

1. The desirability of the outcome.

Statement: "The goal is desirable and worth it."

2. Confidence that the outcome is attainable.

Statement: "It is possible to achieve the goal."

3. The evaluation of the appropriateness or difficulty of the behaviors needed to reach the outcome (regardless of whether it is believed they will produce the desired result).

Statement: "What has to be done in order to achieve the goal is appropriate and ecological."

4. The belief that one is capable of producing the required behaviors.

Statement: "I/we have the capabilities necessary to achieve the goal."

5. The sense of self worth or permission one has in relation to the required behaviors and outcome.

Statement: "I/we have the responsibility and deserve to achieve the goal."

After the beliefs have been stated, individuals may rate their degree of confidence in relation to each of the statements on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest degree of belief. This can provide an immediate and interesting profile of potential problem areas of motivation or confidence. Any statements which are given a low rating indicate possible areas of resistance or interference which will need to be addressed in some way.

The Belief Assessment Sheet on the next page provides a simple but effective instrument for quickly assessing the relevant areas of belief in relation to a goal or plan.

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