Figuring out our personal goals for therapy

by Andres Carrion | July 2020

When we think about health, whether it be physical or mental health, we tend to focus on the things we don’t want. We go to the doctor because we’re sick, and we don’t want to feel sick or we go to the doctor because we don’t want to get sick. The same is true for mental health and therapy. 

When we’re asked what we’re hoping to get out of therapy, for instance, we may say something like “I don’t want to feel depressed or anxious” or “I don’t want to fight so much with my partner.” These are really good goals to have in therapy, but they neglect a big part of therapy, which is the things we do want.  These can be things like, “I want to feel more fulfilled,” “I want to enjoy life again,” or “I want to regain intimacy with my partner.” When we shift our focus from what we don’t want to what we do want, we also shift our expectations for therapy and the way we think about it. 

It can be hard to know what we want out of therapy because of the way we’re taught to think about health. One tip is to take some time to reflect on what you want in life, what brings you joy, and what needs you have that are not being fulfilled. When you feel that you’re in a good place with your new goals, communicate them with your therapist. Therapists are able to work alongside you to achieve these goals to become the best version of yourself. This process is a journey that takes time, so as you take time to get to know yourself be compassionate with yourself.  

Take away points: 

  • It’s great to know what you don’t want, but it’s equally important to know what you do want. 
  • Take some time to get to know yourself and reflect on what you need and want out of life. You know yourself best, so it’s important to prioritize yourself and your expectations. 
  • Once you have an idea of what you want in life and what needs are not being met, be sure to communicate these needs with your therapist. Your therapist can work with you to actualize these goals.
  • Finally, be compassionate with yourself. Understanding what you want and need in life is a journey of self-discovery that takes time.