Selecting the right time to make a change through CBT Counseling will help you to follow through with the decision once it has been made. There are three things to consider here; your general life circumstances, the balance between the pros and cons of making the change, and where you place the responsibility for change. Even if you are sure this is the right time, it is worthwhile considering these factors as doing so will maximize your chances of success.

1. Life circumstances
This involves a consideration of other commitments /demands on your time (e.g. work & family) and the support that is available to you within your social/family network. You will need a certain amount of stability here.

2. The balance between the pros and cons of making the change - The Change Trade Off
Change of any type is challenging; outcome is uncertain, the familiar must be exchanged for the unfamiliar and for them to have persisted, old ways are likely to have at least some benefits. Embarking upon change involves tackling The Change Trade Off; short term discomfort for longer term gains. Even changes that seem to be wholly positive and straight forward are subject to The Change Trade Off. For example, for someone keen to learn to play tennis, increase their fitness and expand their social network joining a tennis club might seem like a positive and straightforward change. However even a change like this with so many obvious and relatively immediate benefits can create challenges; the demands of learning a new skill, meeting new people, the physical strain of a new exercise on the body. A more complex change with no doubt create even greater challenges.

Completing the exercise below can help to clarify the aspects of the Change Trade Off for your particular change. Identify the change that you want to make and then list the following:

1. Short term advantages of making the change
2. Short term disadvantages of making the change
3. Long term advantages of making the change
4. Long term disadvantages of making the change

In order to pursue a path to recovery you need to have reached a point where the disadvantages of making a change outweigh the advantages.

The itchy jumper
The following analogy provides a good illustration of this position. Your problem is like a jumper. When you first put it on it keeps you nice and warm. However, it is not made out of 100% wool and so after a while starts to itch. Sometimes you might feel like taking it off, but you know that if you do you will be cold, so you put up with the itchiness. With time however the itchiness gets harder and harder to tolerate. It gets more and more uncomfortable and although the jumper still keeps you warm you start to think whether their might be better ways of keeping yourself warm.

If you decide the time has come to take off your jumper it is important first to explore the other ways that you might be able to keep yourself warm. However, at some point you will have to take the itchy jumper off and be cold for a period whilst you try out some other ways of keeping warm. This may feel more uncomfortable in the short term, but in the longer term it will allow you to keep warm in an itch-free way.

If you don't feel able at present to make a change this might be because your jumper has not yet become itchy enough for you to want to risk being cold. If this is the case, you may have to continue wearing your jumper for a bit longer. At the same time however, it could be helpful to explore other ways that can keep you warm, maybe ones that you can practice whilst still wearing your itchey jumper.

3. Accepting responsibility for change
When we are struggling in a particular position a common response it to place responsibility for changing outside of ourselves. In the short term this allows us to avoid the challenge and discomfort that initiating a change involves. However, placing responsibility anywhere other than with ourselves inevitably will keep us stuck in that position. Some people reason that their problem has a genetic component and therefore is beyond their control. However, although there may be some evidence of a genetic predisposition it will be mixed and only indicates that you may be more likely to adopt this kind of coping strategy rather than another. It has no relevance to making the choice to change.

The foundation of resolving your problem is being honest with yourself, accepting that it is only you who can make this choice and only you who can initiate the action that follows on from this choice. This is not to say that the choice is an easy one or that the action won't be at times challenging and that you will not need support to follow it through, but accepting responsibility for what happens to you and realising that it is only you who can choose the path you take is pivotal to moving forward. It is only the right time to change when you are ready to accept this responsibility.

Author's Bio: 

The British CBT & Counselling Service are Doctors of Clinical Psychology and Counselling Psychologists (MSc) (Richmond, Kingston, Nottingham), specialising in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for both adults and children experiencing a range of problems including, anxiety, depression, relationship problems, bereavement, eating disorders (including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa), obsessive compulsive disorder and others distressing emotional problems. We offer Face to Face CBT Counselling, Telephone CBT Counselling, Marriage Counselling and Online CBT Counselling.
All members of The British CBT & Counselling Service (Richmond, Kingston, Nottingham and West Bridgford) are Doctors of Clinical Psychology, Counselling Psychologists (MSc) or CBT Therapists (Postgraduate Diploma) and are accredited to practice by The British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy and/or hold a practicing certificate with The British Psychological Society. All Psychologists are also registered with The Health Professionals Council which monitors and regulates the practice of Psychologists and some are members of The British Association of Cognitive Psychotherapies South London. Our Psychologists have spent between seven and nine years training to enable people to overcome their emotional difficulties via CBT Counselling and have been qualified practitioners for at least two years. In addition to practicing privately, many hold (or have recently held) senior positions in the NHS.
Dr Gray (Consultant Clinical Psychologist) is the Director of The British CBT & Counselling Service. She is also a Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, has published widely in the field of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Counselling and speaks regularly at both national and international conferences. She is also co-author of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Patients with Eating Disorders: A Comprehensive Treatment Guide. Cambridge University Press (2007) and the companion guide for patients Beating Your Eating Disorder. Cambridge University Press (2010).