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  • Writer's pictureSteven Mason

'New Year's Resolutions: A Psychotherapist's Perspective on Sustainable Change'

Or 'happier' New Year?


As the calendar turns the page to a new year, many individuals embark on a journey of self-improvement through New Year's resolutions. These promises to ourselves often involve personal growth, healthier habits, and positive lifestyle changes. As a psychotherapist, I have witnessed the transformative power of intentional change and would like to shed light on how we can approach resolutions with a therapeutic mindset.

Understanding Change in Psychotherapy:

Change is a complex and multifaceted process, and psychotherapy provides valuable insights into the mechanics of transformation. One fundamental aspect is acknowledging that change is a gradual evolution rather than an overnight occurrence. This perspective helps individuals set realistic expectations for their resolutions, fostering a sense of patience and perseverance.

Supporting the Path to Change:

In my practice, supporting clients through the change involves creating a safe and non-judgmental space. Exploring the underlying motivations and fears associated with their resolutions is crucial. By delving into the roots of their desires for change, we can uncover behaviour and thought patterns that may hinder or facilitate progress.

The process also involves helping clients set realistic and specific goals. Instead of vague resolutions like "exercise more" or "eat healthier," we work together to define tangible, measurable objectives. Breaking down larger goals into smaller, achievable steps makes the journey less overwhelming and increases the likelihood of success.

Encouraging Self-Reflection:

Self-reflection is a powerful tool in the process of change. Together with my clients, we explore the reasons behind their resolutions, identifying what these changes mean to them on a deeper level. This introspective approach helps create a stronger connection between their goals and core values, reinforcing their commitment to the change.

Addressing Resistance and Ambivalence:

It's common for individuals to face internal resistance and ambivalence when striving for change. Acknowledging these feelings without judgment is essential. We explore the root causes of resistance, recognizing that it often stems from a fear of the unknown or a profoundly ingrained comfort in the status quo. By addressing these concerns, we can work towards building resilience and embracing discomfort as a natural part of the change process.

Celebrating Progress, Not Perfection:

In the journey towards change, celebrating progress, no matter how small, is crucial for sustaining motivation. Recognizing achievements, no matter how incremental helps build confidence and reinforces the idea that change is a continuous process. Additionally, we explore the concept of self-compassion, encouraging clients to treat themselves with kindness and understanding during setbacks.


Approaching New Year's resolutions through a psychotherapeutic lens offers a holistic and sustainable perspective on change. Individuals can enhance their chances of success by understanding the intricacies of transformation, setting realistic goals, encouraging self-reflection, and addressing resistance. Remember, the journey towards positive change is not about perfection but growth, self-discovery, and the pursuit of a fulfilling life.

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