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5 Common Goals to Achieve in Counseling


You've decided that you are interested in therapy. First, let me say that it's not easy to admit that you are looking for support sometimes, and I commend you for coming here and reading this blog! Now that you are here, I want to answer some of your questions about therapy and how setting your personal growth goals can change your life.


People come into therapy for various reasons, but it usually boils down to a couple of crucial struggles. The underlying issue is that a person is unhappy, sad, exhausted, or overwhelmed most of the time. These issues can show up in different ways, depression, anger, anxiety, loss of relationships, a feeling of something being wrong, and frustration with figuring out how to move forward. No matter which feelings and issues stand out to you as you read the above sentences, know that therapy does help with all of these things.


It's essential to find the right therapist for you, so look for someone who states that they work specifically with the struggles that you are experiencing. It would be best if you understood going in that your therapist is not there to fix your life for you. They are there to support you and teach you how to navigate your goals and healing. The hard work will have to come from you. Trusting your therapist and being honest even about the hard stuff is essential to working through it, so don't hold back for fear of judgment. Therapists are trained to listen and support without judgment. Once you find your therapist, it's time to identify the goals that will take you forward in your journey.


Below are five of the most common goals that people have in therapy, why they are essential, and what they may look like for you. Remember that all goals should be particularly tailored to you and your life and the things you struggle with. Don't be afraid to personalize each plan and make sure you celebrate each time you reach a goal; after all, you worked hard.


Five common goals to achieve in counseling



Communication. Many issues at work, with friends, and with our loved ones comes down to communication. It may be that everyone in your life speaks one language but finding each person's emotional language is essential. Our emotional languages are created through our development and the messages we incorporate into our interactions with others. If you are struggling with communication in your life, it might feel like loneliness, not being heard, depression, sadness, isolation, frustration, and even anger. A goal related to communication might look like having fewer misunderstandings with others, having healthy conflict resolution, showing love and appreciation to others, or learning about your emotional language about love and life.


Relationships. All humans are social beings in some way. We are communal, which means that our lives are full of relationships with others, and we find a lot of our value in how we relate to others and how they respond to us. This becomes problematic and difficult when we build unhealthy relational styles or unhealthy relational patterns. If you are having a hard time with the relationships in your life, it might feel like exhaustion, conflict, anger, isolation, anxiety, fear. Like you are always on the outside, and everyone knows something that you don't get. A therapy goal to have healthier relationships might be identifying unhealthy relationships in your life currently, identifying unhealthy relational dynamics that you have, or improving an essential relationship by learning what you need, how to ask for it, and how to support someone is important to you.



Quality of Life. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that quality of life is something that we have to invest in. If we aren't investing in the crucial areas of our lives, we end up looking around one day, asking ourselves how we got where we are and why we aren't happy or fulfilled. Our quality of life is unique to us in many ways, but it typically encompasses social, personal, professional, and family life. When any of these things are out of balance, we will find ourselves exhausted, unhappy, and yearning for something different. Struggling with quality of life might feel like helplessness, overwhelm, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, frustration, and a lack of joy. A few goals that can support change in our quality of life are shifting our focus to what is genuinely essential, cutting out the noise and the busy in our days, pouring energy into ourselves instead of

everyone else, and how to maximize our gifts and skills to help with what is hard.



Happiness. A pervasive thought that brings people to therapy is an overwhelming feeling of not being happy and seeking happiness. It's a simple but powerful thought, and if you find yourself thinking that you want to be satisfied, you are not alone. The idea of happiness permeates our social media feeds, and most of us aren't immune to the curated self that everyone posts. We know that life isn't like that in our minds, but when we see someone sharing their perfect life, we don't always believe what we think. This makes space for comparison of our lives with others, and if we aren't careful, this leads to judging ourselves for all we don't have and aren't doing. FOMO anyone? This kind of struggling might show anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, depression, low self-worth, and negative thinking. A goal to work towards when we are having a difficult time with our brand of happiness is being more positive towards ourselves, finding grace in our lives, discovering our gifts, and how to balance the hard stuff using what we know and building contentment within ourselves.




Loving and Accepting Self. We all want to love ourselves. We know somewhere within us that loving ourselves will open doors, allow us to find peace, and make our whole lives better. But we struggle with loving ourselves because we have milestones set off when we can love ourselves. When we're confident, living the life we want, and everything is perfect, then we can love ourselves. This means that we are looking at the issue backward. To love ourselves, we have to accept the self that we are today, living our lives without milestones and perfection. The drive to get to that someday place can show anxiety, perfectionism, overachieving, stress, depression, frustration, and imposter syndrome. A few goals that we can set in therapy to move through these feelings are being kind to ourselves, accepting that we are doing the best that we can every day, examining our expectations for ourselves, or slowing down the whole pace of our lives.


After reading through the five common therapy goals list, I'm pretty confident that at least one of them spoke to you. The funny thing is that coming into therapy to work on only one of these issues allows you to work on all of them as they are struggles that everyone faces at some point in life and are often intertwined. As people, we have a lot of the same struggles; they show up differently due to our uniqueness.


There is no shame in simply being human, and that means that there is no shame in having human problems related to mental health. Everyone could benefit from mental health support at some time in their life, no matter class, race, gender, ability, or age. No one who has lived or will live has had it all figured out at all times. Confidently dive into your mental health journey with a therapist who can show you all you need to grow in the most challenging areas. You'll always be happy that you tried, no matter the outcome.


References:

Therapy:

https://www.goodtherapy.org/what-is-therapy.html#:~:text=What%20Is%20Therapy%3F%20Therapy%2C%20also%20called%20psychotherapy%20or,issues%2C%20and%2For%20somatic%20responses%20%28sensations%20in%20the%20body%29.

Depression:

https://healthtopquestions.com/what-are-signs-for-depression/

Anxiety:

https://www.anxiety.org/what-is-anxiety

Therapy Does Help:

https://thewellnesssociety.org/what-is-therapy-and-how-does-it-work/

The Right Therapist:

https://www.rewire.org/know-therapist-good-fit/

Goals:

https://positivepsychology.com/goal-setting-counseling-therapy/

Communication:

https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/communication-issues

Emotional Language:

https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2019/01/using-emotional-language

Depression:

https://depression.newlifeoutlook.com/communication/#:~:text=Depression%20weakens%20your%20communication%20skills.%20It%20changes%20the,even%20been%20practicing%20your%20new%20skills%20with%20friends.

Showing Love:

https://www.5lovelanguages.com/

Communal:

https://nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2019/The-Importance-of-Community-and-Mental-Health

Unhealthy Relational Styles:

https://thinkaloud.net/5-unhealthy-attachment-styles-that-affect-your-relationship/

Anxiety:

https://nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2017/Learn-How-to-Couple-Your-Anxiety-and-Relationship

Ask For It:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/passion/201601/the-power-asking-help

Quality Of Life:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-consciousness-question/201602/quality-life

Happy:

https://www.calmsage.com/different-types-of-happiness/

Cutting Out The Noise:

https://positivepsychology.com/finding-focus-age-of-distraction/

Happy:

​​https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/how-stop-looking-for-happiness-others-and-learn-create-yourself.html

Comparison:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201711/the-comparison-trap#:~:text=The%20recognition%20that%20your%20abilities%20are%20a%20notch,they%20leave%20you%20feeling%20chronically%20inferior%20or%20depressed.

Love Ourselves:

https://time.com/5136409/health-benefits-love/

Accept:

https://www.essentiallifeskills.net/loveyourself.html#:~:text=To%20love%20yourself%20means%20to%20accept%20yourself%20as,thinking%20that%20you%20are%20better%20than%20anyone%20else.

Imposter Syndrome:

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2021/06/cover-impostor-phenomenon



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