Talk Therapy Can Help You Reach Goals

Talk Therapy Can Help You Reach Goals

If you struggle to set/meet goals, you are not alone. In fact, perhaps as much as 92% of the population has found it difficult to achieve goals they set. This reality – the cycle of setting/trying to reach behavior change goals and failing to do so – can produce mental health symptoms (e.g., hopelessness, low mood, irritability). When we do not reach goals, we can feel powerless to change our lives for the better. Achieving goals is empowering and can help us experience an increased sense of being in control of the ways in which our life is unfolding.

How Talk Therapy Can Help

Just as you might follow a recipe to produce a tasty meal, there is a formula to follow that can support the setting of reachable goals. This formula is often used in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to help folks set and then reach behavior change goals.

Goal setting has been shown to be a useful tool for those suffering from depression according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE. The study found that individuals suffering from depression had more trouble setting goals and were less likely to believe they could reach those goals. Depressed participants also tended to set avoidance goals rather than approach goals.

An avoidance goal is one set to avoid a negative outcome. An example of an avoidance goal is: “I want to lose weight so I don’t develop type 2 diabetes.” An approach goal is one set to ensure a positive outcome. An example of an approach goal is: “I want to lose weight to have more energy.”

The study found that psychotherapy can help people with depression set and achieve realistic and achievable goals as well as help them stay on track in pursuit of that goal.

A goal-setting formula used in cognitive behavior therapies might include the following steps:

  • Identify a SMART (i.e., Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goal
  • Choose a starting point
  • Identify the steps required to achieve the goal
  • Take a first step to get started

A skilled psychologist, therapist, or counselor can help you with each of these steps. From ensuring you select realistic, approach-oriented goals to helping you more consistently monitor your progress or from breaking down a goal into small, actionable steps to helping you take a first step toward a goal, an experienced mental health provider can add value to your behavior change process. If you are interested in further exploring the above concepts and strategies, I invite you to call or email me to get started working together. Telehealth appointments are available.


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