Therapy is a type of treatment intended to relieve or heal symptoms concerning an issue or condition. The success of therapy is dependent on various factors, but a major reason why therapy fails is due to the client being resistant to change or having unrealistic expectations. Often times, this results in unsuccessful therapy sessions. To guarantee success in therapy sessions, goals have to be set in order to avoid problems encountered during therapy.


The most important thing for any therapist is the recovery of their clients, and for this to be achieved, goals have to be set. A good therapist is able to set achievable targets in line with his client’s goals to ensure the issues and problems he has are transformed into realistic solutions. Goals can aid clients in monitoring their progress and understanding how effective the treatment approach is. Therapy goals ensure success and proper treatment for clients.

For therapy goals to be effective, it is important for the client to actively engage with sessions and put in lots of work outside the counseling environment. If the client fails to meet the set criteria, there will be little or no progress at all, making the convenience and accessibility of online therapy a valuable option for those seeking to actively participate in their mental health journey.

The starting point for setting therapy goals is outlining what is to be achieved from the counseling sessions. Therapists guide their clients down the road leading to their recovery, but it all begins with a step from the client himself.

What is The Goal of Therapy?

Goals are guidelines or roadmaps for achieving set targets. Without goals, it would be hard to navigate one’s progress, achievements, and completion of set targets. Goals increase persistence and direct focus toward relevant objectives.

The main aim of therapy is to ensure the recovery of a client. The goal of therapy encompasses the goals that guarantee the recovery of a client. A few goals include aiding the client’s decision-making process, enhancing the client’s ability to cope with present conditions effectively, boosting the client’s ability to maintain and establish sustainable relationships, and promoting behavioral change and personal development. These goals facilitate positive changes in clients and ultimately boost their recovery.

Setting Goals in Therapy

Research shows that setting goals in therapy improves the clients’ chances of success. Studies have also shown that therapists who set useful goals during therapy have noticed improved performance and motivation from clients towards achieving those goals. The sense of achievement and pride clients feel because of attaining their set goals help grow their self-confidence to aim higher and achieve more.

When clients are able to track their progress, they can analyze what they have done, what changes they have made, what they can do better, and so on, and this helps boost their morale as they embrace their hard work and strive for more challenging goals.

Another advantage for clients when setting goals is being accountable to their therapists. Accountability simply means being accountable and taking responsibility. Accountability helps both the client and the therapist build trust and strengthen their relationship. Being accountable as a client allows the client to take responsibility for their growth and minimize mistakes that would hinder their development.

How to Set Goals for Therapy?

Goal setting is vital for individuals in pursuit of improvement and development. Not setting a goal or improper goal setting can often lead to unwanted results. To achieve important things, goals have to be set and met accordingly. Facilitating success in therapy depends on how properly set goals are met and achieved.

Working with goals in therapy helps create positive therapeutic change. Many techniques can be implemented when setting goals for therapy, but before beginning any counseling plan, it is important to assess the client’s condition before treatment. Clients should be able to:

Highlight expectations from the therapy.

Suggest what they feel may hinder their progress.

Divulge what success would feel like and their motivations to make adjustments.

During the interview process with the client, the therapist would be able to devise a plan and set realistic goals in line with the client’s expectations. In some cases, goals may be set unrealistically low because of the client. In the sense that the client may be struggling with transparency, that’s why it’s imperative for goals to be set with clients in a non-judgmental and comfortable environment to allow the client to properly express themselves. The client may be in their comfort zone, so the goals they set might not be of tangible worth, or they could be scared of failure. It is the therapist’s job to create a conducive environment that allows the client to divulge important information for proper goal setting.

The following are steps to apply when setting goals:

Identify the client’s goal.

Select a start point.

Highlight the steps required of the client to achieve the set goal.

Encourage the client to take the first step to get started.

Example of Therapy Goals

Creating treatment plans and goals for clients at the start of therapy can improve client retention and help organize follow-up steps for future sessions. A few examples of therapy goals a client may have include:

Healing from a toxic relationship

Stopping a bad habit

Reigniting passion and creativity

Alleviating depression

Improve decision-making

These few examples would give you an idea of what a therapy goal would look like. Therapists will not be doing much if people could easily identify the cause of their problems and the solutions to them. Clients have to first identify what they think the problem might be and work from there.

To further simplify the above examples, a few more insightful examples of client goals and objectives will be shared below.

Goal: Elevate Mood

Objective: identifying and avoiding activities or behavioral patterns that negatively affect mood. Engaging in activities that bring joy and establishing good relationships with people

Goal: Substance Abuse

Objective: Building a healthy diet and creating an accountability support system with family, friends, and the therapist disposal of substances in possession.

Goal: Behavioral Change

Objective: learning to avoid situations that trigger strong emotions that may lead to unwanted behavior, building positive habits, and getting feedback from friends and people around the client.

Individual therapy is a process between the individual and the therapist. It can also be referred to as individual psychotherapy or talk therapy. Many people go to therapy to increase their quality of life and create positive changes in their daily lives. Some issues clients may have are usually hard to deal with alone, which is why therapy exists; man is a social animal, therefore we do not have to struggle with our problems alone.

People who notice that the issues they have are hard to deal with alone are advised to go to therapy. If these issues begin to interfere with daily life and relationships, it would be best to seek therapy. Goals for individual therapy may include increasing productivity, adopting new coping mechanisms, creating positive changes to behavior, improving the ability to communicate feelings and emotions properly, resolving past trauma, and so on.

Another example of therapy goals are family therapy goals. Family therapy goals are usually aimed at improving communication between members of the family, solving problems or issues associated with members of the family, fostering healthy relationships between members of the family, and handling special situations to improve the dynamic within the family. Family counseling often aims to resolve patterns resulting in conflict rather than solely focusing on an individual’s concerns alone. Some examples of family therapy goals are parental discourse, domestic violence, the loss of a family member, etc.

We have goals for couples therapy because, as we all know, relationships with people often lead to a few misunderstandings here and there, but when these misunderstandings result in conflict and severe arguments between couples with no substantial solution being reached, it would be best to seek couple’s therapy. Examples of goals of couple’s therapy include identifying the root cause of the problems, learning to compromise, understanding your partner’s fears, and so on.

There are smart goals in therapy. These goals are:

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Achievable

R: Relevant

T: Time Specific

These parameters help guide your goals and ensure your objectives are achieved at a certain time and executed properly. This approach seeks to eliminate uncertainties in the goal-setting phase and helps define the specified objective.


The importance of therapy cannot be overestimated; therefore, it is essential to understand its purpose and usefulness to people. Therapy has led to sustainable development and has provided lifelong solutions for clients. However, for therapy to work, the client must be transparent with the therapist in order for the objectives to work for the client and for them to be in line with their goals, thus leading to an increase in the success rate of therapy.