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Therapy Goals

Therapy Goals

Most forms of therapy incorporate therapeutic goals into the treatment plan. A good Cognitive Behavioral therapist will help clients to develop goals that are measurable; one of the reasons why I base my practice on this approach. How refreshing to know what your goals are, if you're working toward them, and when you've reached them! When my clients "graduate," they know they've either reached their therapy goals, or they know what they need to do to get there.

Expect your therapist to ask you in the first session what your goals are for therapy. For many clients the answer is clear: to reduce anxiety, to stop feeling depressed, to get over a phobia, or maybe to get better sleep. Other clients might want their therapist to help them clarify their goal(s).

Cognitive Behavioral therapy goals are measurable, meaning that my clients and I determine how we will know when progress is made and when goals are achieved. It is my job to help clients define the measurements that will help them decide if they're progressing toward their therapy goals. A good example was a client of mine who was deathly afraid of throwing up in public. By the time he saw me, he had already lost his job because he found it almost impossible to leave his home. His initial goal was: "I will be able to leave my house every day." My job at this point was to help him define "leave my house." We had to figure out what he wanted to be able to do in terms of distance from his house, length of time away from home, etc. In this case, the client decided that it meant being able to spend a full day and night away from home because then he would know that he'd be able to go to a full-time job, and he'd be able to go on weekend getaways with his fiancee.

With a measurable goal defined, we were on our way to determining a treatment plan to help get him there. Every few sessions, we would review his goal and use his own specifiers to determine progress in therapy. I love this approach because it honors that my clients are experts about themselves, allowing them to use that expertise in a meaningful way. My clients have told me that this process makes them feel more in control of therapy at the beginning of and during treatment, and real pride and achievement when goals are attained.

What are your goals for therapy?

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