Just like in all other areas of life, having specific therapeutic goals will help keep you focussed and moving forward. Having goals also makes it easier to communicate with your therapist about what you are working on, where you need help, what interventions are effective.
Most people understand therapy as a place to talk about current and past life experiences and process emotions in a safe, compassionate setting. You might want to process fears and worries and learn to stop anxious episodes. Or you may need help with healing from trauma, depression, or grief.
I consider one of the basic goals of therapy to be understanding how to care for yourself despite the presence of difficult emotions (sadness, anger, grief, shame, anxiety, fear) and learning to not take those emotions out on yourself or others.
Learning how to not take negative emotions out on ourselves and others is the gateway to a happier and healthier life.
Psychotherapy can also help you to strengthen your relationship with yourself. A healthy relationship with the self means that you:
- Love yourself (actually feel affection and love for yourself)
- Protect yourself
- Identify yourself, and hold on to your sense of self even when others disagree
- Care for yourself in a responsible adult way (neither neglect nor abuse yourself)
- Moderate yourself
- Advocate for yourself
Perhaps you want to discover what makes your life meaningful and important, and awaken your sense of passion and purpose? People with purpose have more resilience in the face of difficulties, and can set priorities that reflect their most important needs and desires.
Another goal might be to identify and challenge old, unhealthy beliefs and mindsets that interfere with your success and happiness. In identifying your formerly unconscious mindsets, you can begin the conscious process that stops self-sabotage at its core. More joy comes to you as you find and integrate authentic healthy beliefs and mindsets that support your life passion, goals and purpose.
Another approach to therapy is as a process to strengthen your internal resources. The list below includes many qualities and abilities that I consider to be essential internal resources for a good life.
- Courage, resolve, determination, self-discipline
- Loving kindness towards self and others
- Consistent healthy self-care
- Ability to set and keep boundaries with yourself and others
- Ability to delay gratification
- Increasing skill and/or knowledge in areas of interest to you
- Ability to soothe yourself, to relax your body and quiet your mind
- Faith in yourself or the world
- Access to your own wisdom, ability to tell the difference between wisdom and ideas that come from grandiosity, fear, anger, shame, or other shadow aspects of self
- Ability to perceive the bigger, longer-term perspective
- Work toward justice, reconciliation, or forgiveness (for your self and/or others)
- Connection with your authentic self, and ability to stay grounded there
- Confidence in your ability to know what is right for you
Maybe you can share your thoughts about all of this with your own therapist or coach, in order to get clearer about the goals you have and the ways to get support working on them. Or, perhaps this will give you the clarity you need to reach out and establish a therapeutic relationship.
I wish you the best of luck on your journey,