How To Determine Therapy Goals That Are Right For You

By: Gabrielle Seunagal

Updated June 25, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault

There are lots of talk about therapy and the benefits of therapy. Likewise, there are many businesses that provide therapy services. However, what’s less common are discussions about how people can determine which therapy goals are right for them.

Make no mistake: therapy can be a very helpful and beneficial process. This is well-documented; however, having a concrete understanding of your therapy goals and what you hope to achieve from the process is extremely imperative to getting the best results from therapy.

If you are unsure of how to determine which therapy goals are right for you, then look no further. You’ve come to the right place, and there are various benchmarks that you can use to decide what you believe therapy should do for you.

Therapy Goals: Think About How Your Life Could Improve

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No matter where one is in life, there is always room for improvements and steps forward. When you feel unsure of how to determine your therapy goals, think about how you could better yourself. Could your relationships use some work? Are you struggling with self-esteem, confidence, or unresolved issues from the past? All of these things and more can impact how you function from day to day.

Acknowledging how your life could improve is not always an easy process but it’s worth it. It takes a lot for someone to sit down, evaluate the quality of their life, and give some real thought to areas in need of improvement. You may find that taking notes during this process is helpful. By writing thoughts down, you’ll have a checklist that you can use and present to your therapist.

Considering how your life could improve is not a process that will happen overnight, and that’s OK. In many cases, it takes time to really sit down, think about where you are, and plan where you want to be in the future. If you’re not able to think of everything before you go to therapy, that’s also OK. Just having a list of a few things in mind can be helpful. More points may come to mind after you’ve begun the therapy process.

Consider Your Relationship With Self

Although it can be tough to review your life and think of ways you can improve, sitting down and evaluating your relationship with self can be even more difficult. When many people hear the word “relationships,” they think about connections with other people, be it coworkers, lovers, family, friends, etc. These relationships are important but the most paramount relationship of all is the one that you have with yourself.

Your relationship with self has everything to do with your levels of self-esteem, confidence, and how you treat yourself. When you are by yourself, how do you feel? What do you think are your best and worst qualities? How do you feel about what you’ve accomplished and done in life? Do you believe that you are worthy of the best in life?

Many people don’t realize this but your relationship with yourself sets a precedent for everything else. A person who loves themselves feels confident about their abilities and is likelier to attract more positive experiences and interactions with others. They are also more likely to invest in themselves and make decisions that are conducive to their mental health and well-being. How someone treats themselves and carries themselves speaks volumes about their relationship with self.

Conversely, someone who doesn’t feel very good about themselves and their capabilities is likelier to have adverse experiences and more strained interactions with others. A person who maintains a negative relationship with self may make self-destructive choices and neglect themselves in various fashions. They may accept poor treatment from others because they don’t see themselves as worthy of anything better.

Thinking about your relationship with self is an excellent way to determine which therapy goals are right for you. If you think this area could use improvements, don’t be afraid to talk with your therapist. It’s their job to help you and be of service.

Consider Your Relationships With Others

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While your relationship with self largely impacts the relationships that you will have with others, your interpersonal reactions should still be taken under advisement as you consider the therapy goals that are right for you. Do you find yourself struggling to get along with coworkers? Do you have trouble connecting with your family or other people who are close to you? Are you excited or unexcited about getting out in the world and meeting new people?

It’s important to note that there are many factors that can impact the quality of your relationships with others. Sometimes we are not surrounding ourselves with the right people. In some cases, certain folks simply outgrow each other or grow apart, and that’s OK. One of the greatest things about being alive is that there’s a whole world out there. If you are having a tough time in certain relationships, that’s OK. Perhaps, developing new relationships can be something that you can work on with your therapist.

Think About What You Really Want In Life

One of the simplest ways to determine therapy goals is to think about what you want in life. Initially, this sounds very simple but so many people just go through the motions in life and never really take time to consider what they want. This type of existence often leads to regrets later in life. Thankfully, you have a chance to turn over a new leaf and regain control of the trajectory that you are on.

What do you want out of life? Do you want to be closer to your family? Do you want to travel more often? Are you eager to improve your lifestyle or take more time for yourself? Don’t be afraid of setting standards that society may view as too ambitious. Many people fail not because they set goals too high and miss but because they set standards that are too low and they meet those standards.

Figuring out what you want in life may take time, and that’s OK. Sitting down with your therapist and talking this out may help certain things surface or bring about new inspiration. Don’t be afraid to really ponder this; think about who you are and what you want. Once you know what you want out of life, you can figure out what the necessary steps are to accomplish your goals. This is another area in which your therapist can help you.

You May Not Know All Of Your Therapy Goals Ahead Of Time

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There is a somewhat common misconception that people have to know everything they want out of therapy before meeting with their therapist. This is simply not true. Does it help to have some therapy goals in mind? Of course, but this doesn’t mean that you have to know everything you want prior to therapy.

When you work with a therapist, you are going to be doing a lot of talking. During this process, your therapist is going to ask you questions to understand your situation and figure out how they can help and guide you. As you are going through this process, certain things will inevitably surface. You may not be aware of this ahead of time, but it’s very normal to develop new goals and realizations as you are working with your therapist.

This is a good sign, and you should always confide in your therapist when you feel inspired or have a new realization. The therapeutic process is different for each person. Some people go into therapy with a series of goals laid out. Then, there are others who have some idea of what they want out of therapy. Others meet with a therapist because something inside them tells them they should. Sometimes, sitting down with a therapist can be as simple as needing someone to confide in.

Regardless of who you are, what your story is, or why you are going into therapy, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Determining the therapy goals that are right for you is great but don’t feel ashamed if you don’t have everything figured out before you go to therapy. Take your time and let things play out naturally. Sometimes, therapy goals can come to you when you least expect them to.

A Final Word

If you are unsure of where to find great therapy services, then look no further. BetterHelp has an amazing team of elite therapists who would be thrilled to work with you and discern your therapy goals.

And plenty of people are more used to online therapy perhaps than ever before. A New York Times article pointed out that, with the coronavirus happening, more and more therapists have to rely on doing their sessions remotely. Most of them are coping pretty well, too, buoyed by the knowledge that studies to date have shown that remote therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy for treating post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety, among many other mental health issues.

Even without the pandemic, you can see some of the benefits of online therapy. Finding a counselor online negates limited options and a potentially lengthy commute. Online options are often cheaper than traditional therapy options as well. Here are some of recent reviews of BetterHelp counselors to help guide you:

“I know Madeline would want me to give myself credit for doing the hard work to create positive change in my life, but without Madeline creating an unbiased, safe & non-judgemental space, pointing out my negative thought patterns & teaching how to reframe old thought patterns, and help solve for new behavior patterns that support my goals, I would not have been able to process the trauma I’ve need to. She’s highly skilled, has clear boundaries, and is very knowledgable in her field. Highly recommend.”

“Dr. Tassava has been incredible to work with. She is so kind and asks great questions. I always feel better after speaking with her! She is organized and provides structure to help me work through the goals I have for my own personal growth. I am super glad I connected with her!”

Life throws challenges and curve balls at all of us. Nobody should ever feel as though they are alone and with no one to turn to. It’s important to remember that you are never alone, and help is always available.


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