The effects that good therapy can have on your life are phenomenal. You go to your therapist’s office and start to discuss your concerns, worries, and problems. After each session, you see an improvement in the quality of your life.
Things that used to stress you out don’t stress you out as much. Things that might have triggered a desire to fall into bad habits, such as substance abuse or alcohol abuse, don’t pull at you as strongly. You are starting to feel creative again.
It can almost seem like therapy is magical. Therapy is a mixture of art and science. Much of your success depends on the skill and training of your therapist. However, there are several things that you can do that can improve the quality and the success of your therapy. One thing is setting quantifiable goals.
A mistake that many make is going into therapy with a vague motivation. They may say they want to get better or want to improve. But these things can’t be quantified. Here are some realistic goals that can help you track your progress during therapy.
Start by Identifying the Broad Strokes
It is okay to start defining your therapy goals with broad strokes. In fact, during your first therapy session, your therapist likely asked you open questions, such as what you wanted from therapy. Some of the things that came to your mind were likely to feel motivated, to feel happy again, or to feel like you had control over you life.
Obviously, this is not enough for your therapist to help you create effective therapeutic goals. But they are a good start.
Once you have these broad strokes, you can use questions to help pinpoint more specific goals. You might brainstorm and write down the reasons you go to therapy. Some people make a list, others will write complete paragraphs, and others will use a mind map.
For example, if one of your broad strokes is that you are tired, some questions you can ask would include:
• What are the things in my life that I am tired of?
• Do I always feel this sense of tiredness or boredom?
• Is this feeling new?
• What are the things that used to invigorate me? And how can I do them?
Running through this exercise may lead you to identify hopes, struggles, and motivations that will help you set goals for therapy. In fact, what you thought encouraged you to go to therapy in the first place might not be the true issue that you are facing.
Narrow Your Focus
After getting the big picture ideas, it’s time to narrow things down. Is there a specific problem that you are dealing with at your place of work or at home? Are you battling substance abuse and feeling like you lack the strength needed to stick to a sober life? Are you concerned about the impact that your habits are having on your finances, relationships, or health?
When you walk into your therapist’s office, discuss these specific things. Give your therapist something to focus on. If the stress of battling substance abuse is affecting your relationship with your spouse or your children, this is a specific issue that can be addressed in therapy. Are you dealing with feelings of guilt, stress, or remorse? Your therapist can guide you based on these goals.
It’s nice to remember that you are not in this by yourself. Your therapist has been trained to help you identify the root of your problem. They can help you put words to the goals and help you create a way to proceed forward.
Pick One or Two Specific Goals
This is the challenging part. You may go into therapy wanting to fix everything right away. But it’s going to be easier for you and your therapist if you can identify a quantifiable place to start. Some ideas for good goals could be:
• “I want to recover from depression and get my energy back.”
• “I want to have the feeling of self-worth I had prior to battling substance abuse.”
• “I want to stop turning to alcohol and drugs when I’m stressed and find healthier ways to cope.”
These are just basic examples. Your therapeutic goals could be drastically different. Most people go to therapy because they have a sense of unhappiness and just want to feel happy again.
It is your therapist’s job to help you figure out why you are unhappy. But you can make the process easier for yourself and your therapist. Trust your gut. In your heart, you know what you think the problem might be. By saying it out loud, you set it as a goal that you and your therapist can work with.
Are you ready to get started? Our counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us at 844-639-8371.