Goals are important for therapy, too!

It is that time of the year when I hear about goals: academic goals, sports goals, fall goals, work goals (oddly, no mention of progress toward New Year’s Resolutions…).  It seems as though every academic class is addressing goals, SMART goals, and aspirational goals in the syllabus.  Guess what?  You should have therapy goals, too!

I know you just rolled your eyes. Yes, I saw that!  But think about it: why would you attend a therapy appointment if you didn’t have goals?  Further, there might be a way refine your therapy goals to make things measurable, or so that you can see the progress that your therapist is attempting to track.

Here are a couple of common therapy goals, and a way to track the data:

  1. I want to feel better. Yep, me, too! This is a great goal!  But how will I know if you feel better?  What will that look like?
    1. I currently have X days a week where I feel anxious or sad too frequently for my taste. I would like that to be Z days a week. (More specific, easier to target!)
      1. I would be willing to exercise 4 times a week
      2. I will try eating one more fruit or vegetable daily this week
  • I will make time in my schedule to connect with friends this week
  1. I will engage in a hobby for X hours this week (maybe one long session for certain hobbies, or daily for a few minutes for other hobbies)
  2. I will keep a bullet journal or gratitude journal
  3. I will be honest about what drives my anxiety – honest with myself, my therapist, and my social support network.
  • I will try not to (watch the news, play video games for X hours a day/week, drink too much alcohol, vape…)
  1. I have disrupted sleep X days a week. I want that to be less than Z days a week.
    1. You fill this part in. Think about the above – including exercise, alcohol, and timing of technology…
  2. My schedule is too full! I specifically loathe Tuesdays because of (that certain meeting, that professor, the evening meeting that drones on and on…)
    1. You fill this in. Consider if you can delegate, stop attending events, minimize the impact of events, or get some coping skills for the undesirable event
  3. I want less stress. Hey, me, too! But again, your list should not match mine!
    1. My stress comes from the following events/topics: (you fill this part in)
      1. I would be willing to …. (back to you, boss!)

I think you can see the pattern: when you are more specific about your goal, and we can attempt to define the END result (How will we know when you are happy/less stressed/fulfilled…what will that LOOK like, how will things be different?), we can see the path to success.  Try this for a week or so, and I’ll add in a blog post for next week about more GOAL related ideas.