Mental Health – Noticing Change

Posted: 27/10/2016

 Change only happens when it is noticed.

Change and growth can be slow and incremental; it can be missed if our attention is not drawn to it or if we don’t have the right tools to ‘see’ it.


Noticing change can be more complex than we might first think. It can include:

  • naming the behaviour in specific, concrete terms
  • creating a device to measure the change
  • creating a means of recording the change
  • adding the perceptions of significant others to our own
  • taking action on the observations
  • evaluating the significance of the changes
  • celebrating success
  • setting new goals.

Equally, not all change is progress. Noticing positive change needs to be complemented by noticing negative change, set backs and deterioration so that ‘slipping back’ can be prevented. And, indeed, noticing a lack of change in either direction—that is, maintaining the status quo—can be very important at times. As someone said, ‘If I can tell you there’s no change, I’d be the happiest person in the world.’

When noticing change it is important to understand that change is seldom linear, sequential or logical. Noticing the ‘one step back’ as well as the ‘two steps forward’ can be vital.

Finally, a person’s perception of their own change needs to be tested against the perceptions of others. In the case of those people facing issues of mental health, the perceptions of carers and workers need to be taken into account. What we see as significant positive change may be regarded as negative or insignificant by others, and vice versa. As another person said, ‘What is a help to one person is a hindrance to others.’

Therefore, the process of ‘noticing change’ can include both personal reflection and conversations with significant others. Growing Well, a card set published by Innovative Resources, is designed to encourage both. To do this Growing Well incorporates statements written in plain English and a simple visual rating scale. The rating scale uses the metaphor of the growth of a seedling on both the scaling pads and cards.

There are a multitude of forms for noticing change including painting, music, clay, sand play, journalling, creative writing and storytelling. Growing Well, may well be the resource that starts a conversation around noticing change.

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