Your Mental Health "To-Do" List
To give our readers a better sense of what an effective mental health treatment plan looks like, I have been recreating a treatment plan here through a series of blog posts. To see other posts in this series, please click here.
If your therapist is the GPS, you are the driver. Ultimately, you have control over where you are going emotionally.*
Therefore, outlining courses of action that you will take is as vital to your success as are your therapist’s courses of action, which we discussed in our blog post Your Therapist’s “To Do” List. The next section of the mental health treatment plan I use is called the Patient’s Objectives—in a nutshell, your own “to do” list. These objectives are the actual courses of action you will take to help you reach your goals. They will usually be a reflection of your therapist’s objectives.
Your therapist will help you formulate your objectives and will be in tune with what you need to focus on next, as well as help you develop your own awareness of where you need to go. He may be a step or two ahead of your own readiness to proceed, and may gently push you to move forward. Occasionally, your therapist may be a step or two behind you. But he must be in sync with you on the essentials.
Let’s continue with the example of Alexis:
At this point in Alexis’s session we have already discussed and written up the:
1) Problem Statement(s)
Alexis is exhibiting signs of depression.
Alexis feels her worst problem is her insomnia.
Alexis feels her secondary problem is her sadness.
2) Treatment Goal(s).
Alexis will be free from the signs and symptoms of depression.
3) Therapist’s Objectives
Help Alexis identify and talk about what the signs and symptoms of depression are.
Help Alexis identify and talk about three external factors that trigger her symptoms of depression.
Help Alexis identify and talk about three internal factors that trigger her symptoms of depression.
Teach Alexis proven methods to help alleviate or manage the signs and symptoms of depression that she is experiencing.
Now Alexis, with my input, is going to describe her objectives.
Alexis will identify and talk about what the signs and symptoms of her depression are.
Alexis will identify and talk about three external factors that trigger her symptoms of depression.
Alexis will identify and talk about three internal factors that trigger her symptoms of depression.
Alexis will, during therapy sessions, learn and then go on to use proven methods of alleviating or managing the signs and symptoms of depression and will report back in subsequent sessions about how she employed these methods and how effective they were.
Naturally, some proven methods may not work for Alexis, despite being chosen for clinical reasons. We may have to try several methods over time. That is why it is essential that we really talk about the ways and situations in which these methods were used, and rate their effectiveness. Just like the science and art of prescribing the right medication often takes time, usually requires dosage adjustments, and requires regular monitoring, in therapy the chosen courses of action (interventions, techniques, and even methods) will also have to be adjusted.
The next blog entry in the Treatment Plan series will address section number 5: setting the Target Dates for Check-Ins.
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2010). Your Mental Health "To-Do" List. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 4, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/2010/02/your-mental-health-to-dolist/