I admit it. I’m goal oriented and I believe therapy should be goal oriented too. This isn’t to say that other perspectives aren’t valid—but my belief is that if you are spending your time and money on therapy, you and your therapist should be able to accomplish three basic therapy objectives:

 1. Define what problems and issues you are facing and want/choose to work on

 2. Decide what specific goals and objectives (related to these issues), will be set

 3.  Assess whether or not you are achieving these goals at a reasonable rate of progress

 Might you discover new goals along the way, during the course of therapy?

 Might your goals undergo changes as therapy—and life—moves forward?

 Might you complete your goals but still find there are some ancillary issues you want to work on (that might even necessitate continuing therapy)?

Of course, these are all possibilities, maybe even probabilities.

But still, without having goals, progress markers, and defined endpoints to refer to you and your therapist will most likely end up wandering. Most therapists are aware that a patient’s resources (including money, insurance allowance, and time), are not endless and they will be happy to assist you in conserving them. A part of a focused, balanced goal-oriented approach includes an approach I call “conservationist therapy”—using resources wisely by actively managing them.

Your therapist will help you navigate the setting of therapy goals; decide on (either alone or together, with you), the actual treatment(s) that will help you achieve your goals; and establish an assessment/evaluation process whereby you are able to decide whether or not your goals have been reached and significant and sustainable progress has been made in a reasonable timeframe.

 If you’ve been following this blog you might remember I mentioned that your therapist will:

  1. Do an evaluation or biopsychosocial history (see the Total Evaluation Checklist from my book Therapy Revolution and Why Therapists Do Evaluations at my PsychCentral.com blog, Therapy Soup)
  2. Discuss your treatment options
  3. Develop a written treatment plan which will contain, among other things, your goals and objectives.

Together you and your therapist will refer to your treatment plan throughout the course of therapy, Your treatment plan is the go-to source for assessing whether or not you have achieved your therapy goals.