The action stage of change represents full recognition of a problem along with observable evidence of steps taken to reduce alcohol use. The clinician should reinforce and praise the decision to change. Emphasizing that the biggest error at this stage is to underestimate the amount of help needed to quit drinking is critical. The patient should be given a list of options for treatment including AA and pharmacotherapy.
In his influential book, Client-Centered Therapy, in which he presented the client-centered approach to therapeutic change, psychologist Carl Rogers proposed there are three necessary and sufficient conditions for personal change: unconditional positive regard, accurate empathy, and genuineness. Rogers believed the presence of these three items, in the therapeutic relationship, could help an individual overcome any troublesome issue, including but not limited to alcohol abuse. To this end, a 1957 study compared the relative effectiveness of three different psychotherapies in treating alcoholics who had been committed to a state hospital for sixty days: a therapy based on two-factor learning theory, client-centered therapy, and psychoanalytic therapy. Though the authors expected the two-factor theory to be the most effective, it actually proved to be deleterious in the outcome. Surprisingly, client-centered therapy proved most effective. It has been argued, however, these findings may be attributable to the profound difference in therapist outlook between the two-factor and client-centered approaches, rather than to client-centered techniques. The authors note two-factor theory involves stark disapproval of the clients' "irrational behavior" (p. 350); this notably negative outlook could explain the results.