7 Therapy Goals That Are Super Specific and Actually Achievable

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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A good therapist can certainly help you improve your mental health, but these pros aren’t magicians. You’ll have to work on yourself, too, and setting clear therapy goals is a great way to motivate and track your progress.

It sounds pretty straightforward, but deciding what you want to focus on—and then creating a game plan with your therapist—can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time in therapy. That’s why it’s always a good idea to break down long-term goals into smaller ones that are more specific and realistic, Jaclyn Bsales, LCSW, a trauma-informed therapist based in New Jersey, tells SELF.

These objectives will depend on your unique situation, of course, but to give you some inspiration, we asked seven therapists to suggest achievable goals that can benefit pretty much anyone.

1. “I’m going to start noticing and naming my feelings.”

“An important goal to start with, particularly if you’re about to start therapy for the first time, is acknowledging what you’re feeling—emotionally and physically—on a daily basis,” Cassie Ekstrom, LCSW, a social worker at Baltimore Therapy Group, tells SELF. Beyond just recognizing that you’re “sad” while sobbing about your ex or “angry” after arguing with your mom, it’s helpful to practice sitting with these uncomfortable feelings and noticing the thoughts and sensations they bring up, instead of running away from them, Ekstrom says. That way, you’re in a better position to make sense of their root causes.

Your therapist can teach you specific tools to make this less overwhelming. For instance, they might suggest writing out what you’re feeling and thinking in a journal, Ekstrom says, or ask you a bunch of questions that encourage you to explore what you’re experiencing. It won’t be easy, but tapping into your most difficult emotions will help you develop the coping skills to help regulate them, Ekstrom explains.

2. “I’ll reflect on my ‘failures’ and mistakes in a healthier way.”

Beating yourself up for not getting your dream job or not achieving any of your previous New Year’s resolutions isn’t the motivator or “tough love” you might think it is. “It’s unproductive to allow regret about unfinished goals or past perceived failures to overshadow your future,” Weena Wise, LCFT, therapist and owner of Covenant Counseling Group in Silver Spring, Maryland, tells SELF. Plus, obsessing over what you should (or shouldn’t) have done will just keep you stuck, making it even harder to move forward and grow as a person, Wise says.

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