The Importance of Goals in Therapy

An important part of the intake process is the goals section. I often ask clients, “If you could walk out of here after so many sessions having achieved something, what would that be?” Some clients have no trouble defining their goals, others will be stumped by the question. For some people, it comes down to a feeling – “I just want to happy,” or “I want to feel like myself again.”

Having an end goal (or two, three or four) is an important part of therapy. When you come with a problem, you most likely want a solution. Being able to define your goals is the roadway to get there. The importance of goals in therapy can easily be paralleled to our personal goals in life:

  1. Talk it out.  In therapy, you have someone who can draw out exploratory questions which can help you get to the root of the issue. Finding a trusted friend or colleague can be helpful in exploring how you are feeling and what steps you can take to help solve the issue.
  2. Dive a little deeper. Wanting to be happy is a great goal, but what does that really mean? Was there another time in your life in which you felt content and what was different about then versus now? What will your life look like when you are content? (I often use the word content instead of happy as it is more easily defined.)
  3. Define your goals. Setting them is important; a therapist writes them down as part of your treatment plan. You can do the same; breaking them down in steps makes them feel achievable. It also keeps you accountable.
  4. Review your goals. It is always good practice to see where you are in goal achievement. This allows you to gather up the troops and charge back in if things are lagging behind.
  5. Be your own cheerleader. Therapists are part of your cheerleading squad; they help to point out all the good that you are doing to achieve goals – you need to be a part of that too.

We can use these tips when trying to find a solution to a problem as goals are an important part of the equation. If you are struggling to get there yourself, don’t be too proud, shy or worried about seeking therapy. Sometimes a little help can go a long way (if I do say so myself.) 🙂

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2 thoughts on “The Importance of Goals in Therapy”

  1. this is an awesome post, Kristine.
    my goal, when i started therapy was to stay alive.
    after reading this post, the bottom line is still to stay alive.
    ive been taught coping skills by you beautiful therapists, over the years. so, its much better dealing with invasive thoughts.
    medication has helped a ton too but its you people that have saved my life.
    Brian Lessard

    • Brian,
      What a lovely thing to say. And it is so like you to be grateful first. You did the work; you saved yourself. You had to be open to receiving any help being given, you had to be self-reflective, interested in learning, and then applying your new skills. You are a beautiful person, Brian; don’t ever doubt that 🙂


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