It’s not my intention to give full information or an extensive discussion on every theory. This website is intended to be a starting point and the main difference with other websites is the visual representation of the theory, which I hope will help get to grips with the theory. There are also links it the bottom to get your further research started.

Change Model

Cynthia Scott and Dennis Jaffe 1988

Introduction and how the Scott & Jaffe model works.

Scott & Jaffe’ predictive model focuses on the process by which someone goes through change from a psychological perspective. The Scott & Jaffe model plots change along a horizontal time axis and a vertical access denoting performance level or level of emotional response.


Where did Scott and Jaffe find inspiration for their model?

The Scott & Jaffe model was inspired by Kübler-Ross’ 5 Stages of Grief model. If you look at her model below, you will soon see this is not completely unfamiliar to many of us. Aspects of it have been used in pop culture for a long time. Who hasn’t heard the phrase “s/he’s in denial” when something awful has happened and the person at the receiving end is their normal jolly self. The Kübler-Ross Model 5 stages of grief for career guidance theory.

Now compare Scott & Jaffe’s model with the the Kübler-Ross model. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross came from a background of research in how people manage grief. The Scott & Jaffe model has a different focus. It proposes a model of how people cope with change, which includes situations like impending redundancy, not being able to achieve to what someone aspired to, or having to deal with an upcoming change in their situation, etc… This is can include grief. Unlike grief, with which the client most of the time has to deal with after the event ( life changing diagnosis or someone passing away). Change is something that is often planned and clients start the process before the actual change event has happened. Denial takes place at a different point in time in the process.

When you go through some of the resources about this model (and other models of change!) you’ll notice that this is very well embedded within business and management theory. This doesn’t mean we can’t use this well in a career guidance context as well!

Career theory and the Change Model by Cynthia Scott and Dennis Jaffe.

What does the model look like in more detail and how can we use it in practice?

The Scott & Jaffe model recognises 4 states or stages, if we think of this as a process as they do. The model also proposes 4 different ways in which we can support someone going through change, each one relevant to one of the four stages:

  1. Denial – the client is not aware or denies change is happening. This is a normal reaction to change and we can help the client by offering information and supporting them in taking on board what this means for them.
  2. Resistance – there is a realisation that the change will happen and is unavoidable. Resistance can take the form of anger or frustration on the one hand or fear and anxiety on the other, or a mix of both. This is where the client needs support in dealing with their emotions in relation to the situation. Other responses can be disengagement and rebellion.
  3. Exploration – the client starts accepting that change is inevitable and starts exploring how they can cope with this change and what it means for them in reality. Rational thinking and decision making returns, along with productivity. We can help the client by helping them focus on the positive implications of the change and how this could help them be in a better position after. This is a very delicate stage and it pays to be sensitive to this while supporting the client. In the worst case, clients may dip into, or return to, the stage of resistance.
  4. Commitment – during this stage the client fully accepts the change and confirms how the change is going to work for them. They regain the sense of empowerment they lost when they were made aware of the change happening. We can support the client by confirming their response to the change.


How well does this model work?

1. Have a look at the following questions and see what you think:
  • One of the possible responses to change could be the client ‘switching off’, which is linked to motivation. How does the Scott & Jaffe model incorporate motivation?
  • In how far does the model represent the reality of change?
  • If you decide the model is not representing well how change happens in the real world, what is the value of it for practice?
  • What does this model leave out? Are there really only 4 steps to coping with change?
  • Like all models with a linear structure, is this accurate? Or would a circular model be more accurate?
2. Now have a look at the other models of change and compare their strengths and weaknesses to this model.
  • How does Scott & Jaffe’s model compare to Kurt Lewin’s change model?
  • What about the Cormier and Hackney model, which has a different perspective?
  • And there is also Lippitt’s 7 stage model; are more stages better or worse? What does it say about the scope of both theories?
  • Think of an example of where you went through change. Was it planned or unplanned? How did you feel? Would Prochaska and DiClemente’s model, or any of the other models have been more or less helpful than Scott & Jaffe?
  • There are also the models of Schlossberg, Herzberg and Nicholson to consider and compare to the model on this page…


Useful links:


  • On Grief & Grieving Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss, E. Kubler-Ross, D. Kessler; 2005, Scribner, New York