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Goal Setting in Therapy | Taylor Counseling Group

Therapy sessions are a safe place where you can talk through difficult emotions, discover and eliminate troubling symptoms and improve your overall sense of well-being. The best way to achieve improved mental health is through goal setting. Like anything in life, it helps to have an idea of what you would like to achieve or see as a result of your time spent with a professional counselor.

  • What Are Therapy Goals and Objectives?
  • Common Counseling Goals and Examples
    • Changing Behaviors
    • Establishing and Maintaining Relationships
    • Enhancing Your Ability to Cope
    • Facilitating Decision-Making
    • Development

What Are Therapy Goals and Objectives?

Therapy is only effective if you take charge and understand your part. Your counselor cannot fix you — only you can. Setting goals for therapy is accepting responsibility for your life and taking active steps to make a change.

Of course, goals vary from person to person. Your counselor will collaborate with you to create an individual plan that’s just right for your unique needs. As you set goals and decide what you hope to accomplish or experience, you’ll better understand what you’re working toward in therapy.

Common Counseling Goals and Examples

Therapy goals are meant to be challenging. After all, you can only see your life improve if you’re motivated to make changes. The most effective plans are built on specific, measurable and achievable goals.

The best goals focus on growth — not outcomes. With that in mind, here are some common examples of effective counseling goals.

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1. Changing Behaviors

Everyone has behaviors in their life that they’d like to change. Changing your behaviors requires determination and practice. Goal setting in therapy can help you stay on track with small, measurable objectives. Whether you want to quit bad habits, like smoking, or foster new, healthy behaviors, your therapist can collaborate with you on your journey.

2. Establishing and Maintaining Relationships

Relationships are the building blocks of community. If you find it difficult to make friends or sustain professional relationships, your counselor can help you develop actionable goals to grow in this area of your life.

3. Enhancing Your Ability to Cope

Whether you struggle with anxiety or you’re faced with an unexpected loss, the ability to cope and deal with difficult situations is crucial. Everyone has coping mechanisms. Your counselor will help you learn healthy strategies and identify coping devices that are not helping you.

4. Facilitating Decision-Making

Fear of making the wrong choice leaves many people incapacitated and in an unhealthy state of limbo. Your therapist can help you discover ways to become more decisive so that you can take charge of your life.

5. Development

Personal development is a lifelong process. During your counseling sessions, your therapist can help you assess your skills and qualities and consider your aim in life so that you can realize and maximize your inherent potential. Your personal development could be working to improve communication, problem-solving, adaptability or self-confidence.

Discover the Power of Goal Setting at Taylor Counseling Group

The therapeutic process is a tool that can lead to incredible transformation. Goal setting is an essential part of this process. At Taylor Counseling Group, we believe the counseling relationship is a collaborative one. Helping you understand your individual goals is as important as open, honest conversation. If you’re ready to make a change and grow, we want to help. Schedule your appointment at Taylor Counseling Group to learn more about goal setting within your individual counseling sessions.

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Goal Setting in Counseling and Therapy (Incl. Examples)

Goal setting is important for those who want to improve their life. Setting goals helps you remain accountable for the things you want to achieve.

Goal setting is even more important for those in counseling and therapy. Not knowing how to properly set up goals can often lead to failure.

There are many great techniques when it comes to setting goals, and this article will review many of those.

Setting goals can not only impact mental health, but it can also help you overcome depression and help you with rehabilitation.

Goal setting acts as a roadmap for you to follow when it comes to overcoming challenges and achieving things in life.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients create actionable goals and master techniques to create lasting behavior change.

This Article Contains:

  • What is Goal Setting in Counseling?
  • How Goal Setting Works in Therapy
  • How Goal Setting Can Impact Mental Health
  • Some Practical Advice for Practitioners
  • Applications in Occupational Therapy
  • Neuro-linguistic Programming (Goal Setting and NLP)
  • Setting Goals with Social Work Clients
  • Does Goal Setting Help with Depression?
  • A Look at Goal Setting in Rehabilitation
  • 4 Goal Setting Counseling Activities
  • Using a Goal Setting Workbook
  • 5 Goal Setting Workbooks for Counseling
  • 6 Goal Setting Worksheet Templates
  • A Take-Home Message
  • References

What is Goal Setting in Counseling?

As a counselor, it is your job to set expectations with your clients. There are many different perceptions of what a counselor can do and what someone can expect from the counseling experience.

Counseling theorists don’t always agree on what is an appropriate counseling goal, however, there are some common threads when it comes to standard goals you should be including as part of your practice.

The five most common goals of counseling include:

  1. Facilitating behavioral change.
  2. Helping improve the client’s ability to both establish and maintain relationships.
  3. Helping enhance the client’s effectiveness and their ability to cope.
  4. Helping promote the decision-making process while facilitating client potential.
  5. Development.

These goals are guidelines when it comes to helping your clients make positive changes. A big part of the counseling process involves enhancing your client’s ability to cope.

Learned coping skills and patterns are developed throughout our lives, but they may not always work.

Goals are important for everyone, whether they are in therapy or not. Goals help you navigate through life whether they are personal goals, professional goals, a goal to replace a bad habit or simply a goal for achieving success.

Research shows that therapy is much more useful when it involves having a set plan for what you hope to achieve or accomplish. Setting goals can also give the therapist a better grasp of client growth as they proceed with therapy.

According to the Grief Recovery Center, studies show that those who set useful goals during their therapy sessions typically experience less stress and anxiety overall as a result of being able to concentrate better. They often feel happier as well.

Before starting any kind of counseling or treatment plan, it’s also important to set the stage by asking your clients:

  • What they want to get out of the counseling or therapeutic process.
  • What they believe is inhibiting them from achieving this.
  • What their expectations are.
  • What their motivations are for making said changes.

Much of this can be done via the interview process where goals can be discussed and prioritized in terms of the desired time frames. Goals are meant to both motivate and challenge the client so it’s critically important that your client be transparent and forthright with what they hope to achieve.

A few things to look out for when creating and setting goals with your client are setting goals unrealistically low, overcoming the fear of failure or continually comparing goals to the goals of others. Helping your clients move out of their comfort zones is an important part of the therapeutic process. As a counselor, your job is to help your clients stretch and grow and move beyond resistance

How Goal Setting Works in Therapy

Setting goals can obviously be very helpful in multiple areas of life. Goals can help you face emotional and behavioral difficulties, reconnect with old friends, help you look for a new job or simply help you save for a vacation.

According to Justin Arocho, Ph.D., there is a general formula that can be followed when it comes to goal setting. The goal setting approach below is used in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) but it can also be viewed as a standard approach or starting point.

Standard Goal Setting Approach:

  1. Identify your goal.
  2. Choose a starting point.
  3. Identify the steps required to achieve the goal.
  4. Take that first step and get started.

The first step may sound simple, but it is often challenging. Helping your clients fine-tune and get crystal clear on their goals may be harder than you think. Start by asking them what their overall goal really is.

Identifying a starting point is next. Helping your clients face and understand exactly where they are in terms of this goal is a good place to start. It’s important that they are honest with themselves as well, by examining where things currently stand.

Breaking goals down into small steps is a smart choice for those facing big goals. Breaking goals down into manageable chunks or steps is critical because it helps keep the client from getting overwhelmed.

Remember to keep the steps small and to put them in some kind of logical order. As you discuss this you can also talk about possible obstacles that may arise.

While no one can predict every obstacle that may come about, it will be helpful to discuss strategies for overcoming them.

Taking that first small step is a big achievement for anyone. As a counselor, it is your job to motivate the client to do just that.

How Goal Setting Can Impact Mental Health

According to Rose & Smith, (2018), collaborative goal setting is a robust method when it comes to mental health support. The study, which gathered data over a 14-month time frame found that goal achievement and the strength of a working alliance were demonstrated to have a positive effect on personal recovery, for those in the study.

The GROW Acronym

The GROW acronym is another good model when it comes to tools for recovery.

G – Goal
R – Reality
O – Options
W – Way Forward

G stands for goal.

When it comes to setting goals, it’s important to hone in on what you really want. When setting goals, it’s a good idea to be more specific, rather than general. Being specific will help you fine-tune your goal.

For example, many people try and set goals that are too general such as “I want to get healthy.” A better goal would be something much more specific like “I am going to improve my diet by eating more organic fresh foods and produce and I want to accomplish this by June 1st of this year.”

Asking detailed questions can also help you get more specific about your goal. Questions that are good to ask include:

  1. Why do you really want this goal?
  2. How important is it for you to achieve this goal?
  3. Is this goal realistic?
  4. How will you know when you have achieved this goal?
  5. How will you feel after achieving this goal?
  6. Do you believe you can influence this goal?
  7. Describe what kind of positive impact achieving this goal will have in your life.
  8. Describe any downsides when it comes to achieving the goal. If there are any, explain how you can handle that.
R stands for reality.
  1. As you get further into your goals it’s also imperative to be realistic.
  2. Try and ask yourself what is happening in terms of your goal at the present moment.
  3. What kinds of action have you taken in support of this goal?
  4. What kinds of results have you seen thus far?
  5. If you are struggling with this goal, you may need to adjust your goal and be more realistic.
O stands for options.
  1. What options have you explored in terms of achieving this goal?
  2. What are some other ways you can move forward?
  3. What else have you learned?
  4. What are the pros and cons of each of these options?
W stands for a way forward.
  1. What will you do once you have achieved this goal?
  2. What kinds of obstacles can you envision you might face?
  3. How can you plan ahead and come up with some strategies ahead of time?
  4. You can also rate your success or the possibility of achievement on a 1–10 scale. The number 1 means you have no certainty of achieving this goal and 10 means you have 100% certainty of achieving this goal.
  5. List three small steps you could take to start bringing yourself closer to this goal within the next 24 hours. This could be something simple like making a phone call, buying a personal journal or purchasing a healthy recipe guide.

Some Practical Advice for Practitioners

Tips to support practitioners in the vital role they play.

How to Avoid Counseling Burnout

Counseling burnout is a real issue, especially for those in the mental health field. Counselors and therapists need to practice good self-care to avoid counseling burnout.

Maintaining that work-life balance is not easy, especially for counselors and therapists. Every day you enter into the personal world of your client, including the anxiety and the stress.

If you are not careful, your client’s pain and suffering will become your pain and suffering.

According to Thomas Skovholt, Ph. D., many counselors find themselves overwhelmed. Being a counselor or therapist requires a huge emotional investment in order to attune yourself to the client.

From mental abuse to addictions to sexual abuse and traumas, it can become overwhelming. According to Skovholt, there is a cycle of caring that is important to understand.

The Cycle of Caring

The “Cycle of Caring,” is a circular process – one in which the ideal treatment process would ideally follow.

  • Empathic attachment phase. This first phase is all about developing a personal bond of trust with the client.
  • Active involvement phase. The active involvement phase occurs when the counselor dives into the client’s personal issues.
  • Felt separation phase. Ideally, this next phase occurs when the therapist ends the counseling relationship. He or she would then ideally reaffirm his or her own identity and separation at that time.
  • Re-creation phase. This last phase involves reenergizing. Ideally, the counselor is ready and willing for the next client who comes up.

Signs of Counseling Burnout

  1. Anxiety
  2. Apathy
  3. Compassion fatigue
  4. Depression
  5. Feelings of isolation
  6. Mental exhaustion
  7. Physical exhaustion
  8. Difficulty concentrating
  9. Depersonalization of clients (referring to clients as cases and not people)

Compassion fatigue can occur when you experience an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped. This might occur at such a degree that it could possibly create secondary trauma for the therapist or counselor.

Practicing good self-care can help you avoid compassion fatigue and see things in perspective.

Self-care might include spending more time with friends, curling up with a good goal-setting book or watching a funny movie with your partner or spouse. Any activity that nourishes you is good for self-care.

To avoid counseling burnout, try making a list of 5 things that you can do throughout the week to practice good self-care. You might consider things like:

  1. Meeting a friend for lunch or coffee.
  2. Getting a massage.
  3. Going for a long walk in the park.
  4. Cooking a lovely meal.
  5. Taking a night off from technology.
  6. Making a date with your spouse.
  7. Taking a warm bubble bath.
  8. Going to a movie.
  9. Treating yourself to something nice.
  10. Taking a day off or planning a vacation.
  11. Practicing a hobby.
  12. Taking mini-breaks throughout your day to sit outside.
  13. Listening to soft music.
  14. Meditating or deep breathing.
  15. Connecting with other therapists in the business.

Sometimes you have to make a conscious intention to practice good self-care so you can be a better counselor or therapist.

Applications in Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists help people do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic usage of daily activities.

Some common interventions include things like helping children with disabilities participate in school activities or social functions, helping adults or children recover from injuries, or even provide support to older people who may be experiencing cognitive or physical changes.

An occupational therapist typically provides an individual evaluation while working with the client to set and reach goals. An outcome evaluation may also be done so that the therapist can ensure the goals were met or take steps to change the intervention plan.

According to the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, client-centeredness is one of the core values of occupational therapy.

Being able to maintain this client-centeredness within both assessment and treatment plans helps the therapist be an advocate for the client.

Goals for occupational therapy can include:

  • Goals for self-care
  • Goals for work
  • Goals for everyday life or play

An occupational therapist will also work with the client to create a robust plan for achieving goals. Without goals, a client would not have a clear understanding of their desires, needs and wants.

The ultimate goal for occupational therapy is to help someone live a normal and full life as much as possible.

Neuro-linguistic Programming (Goal Setting and NLP)

SMART goals are a popular therapeutic technique within NLP and outside of it. A SMART goal is a goal that is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

One of the easiest ways to establish your values and goals is to make them SMART goals. SMART goals help give the client focus and direction while providing a robust plan for change. Setting a SMART goal is a great way to set a goal with a clearly defined focus.

Stating a goal specifically in a few short sentences helps one focus on the end result much better. It’s also important to focus on that end state, or the state of mind one envisions after achieving the goal.

A measurable goal is one that has a very specific target in mind.

For example, you could ask a client how they define success. It’s important to be able to focus on the feeling the lifestyle they want to attain gives them in addition to stating a measurable goal or number. It’s also important to make sure the goal is meaningful for them.

A good financial goal could be something like this:

“I am creating total financial success where I make at least x dollars a month. I am creating the life of my dreams in an easy and relaxed manner.”

An achievable or action-oriented goal should be one that is challenging but realistic. If someone wants a certain level of financial success, it may not be practical or believable to say, I am making 50,000 a month.

A much more practical approach would be to say something like “I am working myself up to making at least $8,000-10,000 a month initially.

It is better to gradually introduce the mind to a higher and higher goal rather than start out with one that is not believable.

A realistic goal is a goal that has meaning and purpose. Everyone is different so his or her goals will be different. It is important that a client’s goal is fine-tuned to their specific needs.

For goals to be effective they should also have a timetable, otherwise, they may not have relevance. Putting a timetable on a goal, in terms of a specific date in which one is striving to achieve it, can go a long way to motivate someone.

Be sure to give a goal long enough time to realistically achieve it, but not too much time that one loses sight of what they are looking to achieve.

Setting goals helps keep one accountable for their progress along the way. Goals are a great tool for motivation within NLP and outside of NLP.

When you break a goal down to very specific, measurable steps, you will find your goal much easier to follow.

Is your Goal a SMART Goal?

A SMART goal is much more than a simple thought. It is a clearly defined path to success and achievement.

S – Specific

Begin by clearly defining your goal. Make it as specific as possible. Write your goal down and think about ways you can achieve it.

M – Measurable and Meaningful

Make your goals measurable and meaningful. Having a way to measure a goal can make the difference between failure and success.

A – Achievable and Action Oriented

Is your goal achievable and action oriented? Is your goal achievable in the chosen timeframe? What do you need to accomplish to get to your goal?

R – Realistic

Be realistic about how long it will take you to reach your goal. Be clear about the steps necessary to get there.

T – Timely

Goals that are timely are much more likely to be achieved.

Image via Live Love Learn

Setting Goals with Social Work Clients

A social worker is an academic discipline and a profession that is concerned with individuals, families, groups, and communities. A social worker may be concerned with someone on an individual level or the community as a whole in terms of helping people with tangible services, providing social or health services or even participating in legislative processes.

Goal setting is obviously a big part of a social workers job.

Social workers often serve as liaisons between different institutions and patients. They may also collaborate with other health professionals to ensure a client’s health and wellness.

Working with clients and teaching them how to set goals is an important part of the process.

A social worker might work with a client to help them:

  1. Explore and assess strengths and challenges.
  2. Partner together with them to identify short-term and long-term goals.
  3. Find out what is really important for their growth and life success.
  4. Develop a plan of action for change.

Does Goal Setting Help with Depression?

Goal setting can also be a useful tool for those suffering from depression. Helping those in therapy set realistic goals has the potential to help people, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study found that those who were depressed had more difficulties setting goals and they were also less likely to believe they would achieve those goals.

The study followed 42 individuals with depression. These people were recruited from two clinics in England. The researchers compared the study group with 51 people who did not suffer from depression.

The study did not find that those with depression lacked motivation since the depression group came up with as many goals as the group without depression.

Those with depression did, however, describe more avoidance goals rather than using approach goals. Approach goals might describe positive actions such as expressing more gratitude or taking more walks.

An avoidance goal, on the other hand, strives to reduce negative outcomes such as stopping smoking or reducing anger.

Those in the depression group were more likely to give up on their goals when facing challenges when compared with the control group.

This research provides important clues for helping people with depression set and achieve goals. By helping the depressed client set realistic but achievable goals, you can also help them stay on the right track and persist in the pursuit of that goal.

A Look at Goal Setting in Rehabilitation

Goal setting is also an important part of the process of rehabilitation in terms of defining outcomes. By coming to an agreement of what is expected, caregivers can then organize their resources as well as their time in support of the rehab process.

This also helps the caregiver determine where to best concentrate resources in terms of expected outcomes.

One of the most important goals in terms of rehabilitation is, of course, the strategic outcome of the rehab process. This outcome will vary widely among clients. For some people, simply returning to a normal lifestyle is the ultimate goal.

Someone else may have a goal to return home with the assistance of a helper or caregiver. Most inpatient rehabilitation programs have very specific goals when it comes to accelerating the return of a patient back to their normal lifestyle.

Setting appropriate goals helps provide the patient with the motivation to succeed.

In a recent study of elderly patients, getting rid of pain, walking, a sense of autonomy as well as returning home were listed as the most frequently reported goals.

The study revealed that shorter lengths of inpatient stays and attainment of goals were significant predictors for improvement when it came to the overall functioning from the patient’s perspective.

4 Goal Setting Counseling Activities

Engaging in activities is a great way to help your client set and achieve goals.

The Average Perfect Day Activity

This activity can help shift your focus from the negative to the positive. Focusing on your perfect day is a great fun activity for anyone.

Start by taking a blank piece of paper or opening a blank document on your computer and writing down your ideal daily schedule.

Consider these things:

  • What time do you want to wake up?
  • What do you do once you are awake?
  • Do you kiss your spouse?
  • Do you open up windows and let the sun in?
  • Do you go to the kitchen for a cup of coffee or tea?
  • What do you do next, take a shower, watch the news, etc. ?
  • How do you spend your day?
  • Who do you interact with?
  • What do you do for lunch or dinner?
  • How do you relax at the end of the day?
  • What would you like to accomplish?

These may seem like simple things but they can create a powerful vision. This perfect day should be a day where you can do whatever you want. This is not about focusing on a major life event, but rather on a typical day.

You can also ask your clients to close their eyes and go through this typical day in their mind.

Emulate Someone You Admire Activity

This activity can help take someone out of their comfort zone by having them imagine themselves as someone they respect or admire.

Start by taking a blank piece of paper or a document on your computer. Write down all of the qualities of this person you admire in each area of life.

  1. School/Career
  2. Finance
  3. Family
  4. Personal relationships
  5. Health, etc.

You can also write a brief paragraph on the type of person you strive to be in each of these areas. Try not to limit yourself in any one area like the lack of money or a lack of education for example.

You can also role model someone and take a few moments to close your eyes and see yourself as this happy, successful person.

Develop Goal Setting Plans for Each Area of Life Activity

This is a great activity to revisit someone’s overall goals. Try and encourage your client to create their ideal vision in each area of life.

  1. Health and wellness.
  2. Career.
  3. Social life.
  4. Personal life.
  5. Spiritual life.

For example, someone may have a goal to get healthier by cutting back on processed foods and eating more nutrient-dense foods. In terms of family, someone may want to dedicate more time with their children or with their spouse.

Socially speaking, someone may make a goal to get out more with friends and take more time to relax over the weekdays or weekends.

This is a great overall goal-setting exercise that can help someone see the big picture.

The Worry Tree Activity

The Worry Tree is another simple activity that can really help someone change their focus when they get in a negative spiral.

The Worry Tree helps one break down those negative thoughts.

  • When you get a worry, stop and ask yourself what you are really worried about.
  • Next, stop and ask yourself what you can do about it, if anything, in the present moment.
  • If there is something you CAN do about it, create an action plan. Ask yourself the when, what and how of the situation.
  • If you can take action, do so immediately or put it on your agenda for tomorrow, then let the worry go.
  • If there is absolutely nothing that you can do about this worry in the present moment, let the worry go! Change your focus of attention.
  • Live in the NOW.
  • Sometimes just getting your thoughts down on paper can help you see how silly and pointless worrying really is.

Using a Goal Setting Workbook

A goal-setting workbook may very well be the perfect tool for helping someone achieve his or her goals and dreams. Using a workbook allows one to track their progress and get things down on paper.

A workbook also allows one to get clear on their visions, goals, and dreams. All great achievements in life start with an idea. Using a workbook to track those ideas is a smart thing to do.

A goal-setting workbook can help someone:

  1. Create and track simple goals.
  2. Create a plan of action for those goals.
  3. Keep track of what they have accomplished in life.
  4. Track those things they don’t want to repeat.
  5. Identify things that are holding them back.
  6. Identify things that inspire them.
  7. Identify both short-term and long-term goals.
  8. Identify areas of life that still need improvement.
  9. Create new resolutions and goals.
  10. Create and stick with new habits.
  11. Create identifiable and quantifiable outcomes.
  12. See the bigger picture.
  13. Identify mentors and mastermind groups.
  14. Break large overwhelming tasks or goals into smaller more manageable goals.
  15. Hold one accountable for their progress in life.
  16. Discover their passions and talents.
  17. Get motivated and excited about life once again.

A goal-setting workbook is a great tracking tool for thoughts and ideas. If someone doesn’t have the motivation to keep a daily journal, a goal-setting workbook is the next best thing because they can check it once a week or so and update their progress.

Read more about goal-setting books here.

5 Goal Setting Workbooks for Counseling

We share a list of workbooks that can aid counselors with goal setting for their clients.

1. Live Your Legend goal setting workbook

This workbook helps you understand your strongest beliefs and what kind of changes you may need to embody them.

2. Zig Zigler goal setting process workbook

This workbook, written by Richard Spackman, reviews 8 action steps to achieving goals. The book is designed to tie together Zig Zigler’s goal setting system.

3. Creative goal setting workbook by Marianne Thorne

Marianne Thorne is an attitude coach. Her workbook reviews 12 areas of creative goal setting: consciousness, contribution, family, health, home, leisure, material things, personal development, relationships, resources, self, and the planet.

4. Ten Steps to Success: Write it Down and Make it Happen by Matt Morris

Matt Morris is a best-selling author, speaker, and life coach. This workbook outlines a 10-step formula for successfully setting up and achieving your goals. The book also reviews ways to stay motivated, how to apply SMART goals and how to develop a mindset of excellence.

5. Goal Setting: Goals & Motivation

Goal Setting: Goals & Motivation: An Introduction to a Complete & Proven Step-by-Step Blueprint for Reaching Your Goals by Martin Kaye.

Martin Kaye is the founder of the Better Self Academy. This book offers an evidence-based introduction into the world of goal setting. The book promotes the importance of using your strengths, how to avoid the rat race and how motivation really works.

By offering simple daily routines, this book provides a nice overview for setting and achieving goals.

6 Goal Setting Worksheet Templates

Many people fail when it comes to setting goals because they don’t have a plan. Having ideas is great, however, if you fail to write them down or fail to act upon them, they probably won’t happen.

Helping your clients set and achieve goals is a large part of the therapeutic process. Having a good supply of templates to access can help you do just that.

One great template to use is the SMART Goal Setting Worksheet. This worksheet can go a long way to helping your clients hone in on their dreams and goals.

This template can help your client not only identify their goal but help them get really clear on why the goal is important.

With this worksheet, you can also identify potential problems, and create action items to help the goal become a reality.

The Goal Execution Worksheet is another great option. In this worksheet, you will find a place to record goals and action steps, start dates as well as starting metrics and final metrics.

The Simple Goal Setting Worksheet is another option. Sometimes simpler is better, especially if clients are feeling overwhelmed.

The Simple Goal Setting Worksheet has a place to record goals, a place for the anticipated completion date, as well as two things that can help someone reach the goal. This worksheet is also a smart choice for those who might be having difficulties creating and achieving goals.

The Goal Exploration Worksheet is designed to help your clients examine goals across several different areas of life, including social, career, physical, family, leisure and even personality. Creating meaningful goals across multiple areas of life can be very beneficial for those who are struggling.

The Goal Planning Worksheet is another handy tool. This worksheet can help your client set clear goals as well as envision obstacles and strategies for reaching those goals. This worksheet can help your clients set goals for the short-term as well as the long-term.

The Therapy Goal Worksheet is designed to help develop treatment goals at the onset of therapy. It can also be used to set a direction in therapy as well as help create desired outcomes.

This worksheet also contains the Magic Wand question, which is a great tool to help develop the imagination. This worksheet is a valuable tool for treatment planning and creating an outline for future therapy sessions.

Worksheets can be a great tool for people who have trouble envisioning their goals clearly.

A Take-Home Message

Goal setting is certainly an important part of the counseling process. Setting goals can help someone bridge the gap between what they imagine in their mind to making it happen in the real world.

Helping your clients set strong empowering goals can help hold them accountable in the long run. While it seems relatively simple to sit down and write out a goal, it’s not always easy to find the motivation to create a robust goal.

That is where the therapist or counselor comes into play. Teaching your clients to own their own success by setting powerful goals can go a long way in the recovery process.

As a counselor, you have an important job. However, it’s also important to practice good self-care so you can avoid counseling burnout. If you are not at your absolute best, the client will sense it and not benefit as much from the counseling process.

In the end, the counseling relationship is a collaborative one. Helping your clients understand that therapy is only as good as the information you get can help them learn to be more open and honest during the counseling process.

The therapeutic process can be quite an amazing process and a tool that is transformative for everyone.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free.

  • Arocho, J. (2019, March 18). How CBT uses goal setting. Retrieved March 27, 2019, from http://www. manhattancbt.com/archives/544/cbt-uses-goal-setting/
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  • Dickson, J. M., Moberly, N. J., O’Dea, C., & Field, M. (2016). Goal fluency, pessimism and disengagement in depression. PLOS ONE, 11(11).
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  • Goals Worksheets. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2019, from https://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-worksheets/goals/none
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Group psychological counseling | it's... What is Group Counseling?

Group psychological counseling - a type of psychological counseling; a form of counseling and therapeutic intervention, [1] opposed to individual psychological counseling.


  • 1 Advisory groups and group process
    • 1.1 Concept of an advisory group
    • 1.2 Types of advisory groups
    • 1.3 Objectives of advisory groups
    • 1.4 Benefits of group counseling
    • 1.5 Group process
      • 1.5.1 Development stages of the
      • advisory group
      • 1.5.2 Team Leadership and Consultant Identity
      • 1.5.3 Group management skills and techniques
  • 2 Group Counseling Approaches
  • 3 Literature
  • 4 See also
  • 5 Notes

Advisory groups and group process

Understanding the advisory group

Advisory groups, according to Gerald Corey, are groups that focus on interpersonal communication and interactive feedback, as well as the application of various methods related to the "here and now" principle ". [2]

Types of advisory groups

Counseling groups differ to a large extent from other types of groups within which group practice and group process take place, in particular, they differ: [3]

  • from psychotherapeutic groups in their goals. Psychotherapeutic groups are characterized by the exploration of how clients' behavior, experiences, and thoughts can be changed, and by the use of inter- and intrapersonal assessments, diagnoses, and interpretations to link past material to future events; [2]
  • from educational or theme-centered groups, characterized by the presentation to group members and the discussion in it of knowledge and skills acquired by a specialist somewhere in the course of training; [2]
  • from task-oriented groups that are characterized by the application of principles of group dynamics, as well as practices/processes for collaborative group problem solving, team building and counseling development programs; [2]
  • from self-help groups or support groups, which bring together people with similar life difficulties or problems, creating a support system that protects them from psychological stress and encourages them to change their lives. Among self-help groups, in particular (in American society), the following varieties stand out:
    • Adopting Families Adopting Children Everywhere (FACE) groups.
    • groups for people before and after heart surgery - Mending Hearts.
    • groups for people who are worried about weight loss or weight control - Taking Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS).
    • groups for people who have lost a loved one as a result of suicide - Seasons.
    • groups for those who are affected by mental illness and want to expand their knowledge about it - Alliance for the Mentally Ill (AMI).
    • groups for those who find themselves separated from a spouse or loved one or divorced - New Beginnings.
    • groups for women with breast cancer - Reach to Recovery.
    • Alcoholics Anonymous.
    • etc.
  • from groups of short-term group work.

According to J. Corey, the following types of advisory groups can be distinguished: - according to the criterion of age: [4]

  • advisory groups for children
  • adolescent advisory groups
  • student and youth advisory groups
  • adult advisory groups
  • senior advisory groups

Goals of Advisory Groups

According to J. Corey, advisory groups are aimed at the growth and development of group members, and the release of everything that hinders these processes. This distinguishes counseling groups from therapeutic groups, which are centered around recovery, treatment, and personality reconstruction. [5]

Benefits of group counseling

According to Gerald Corey, group counseling has the following advantages (over individual forms of counseling): [6]

  • Group members can explore their style of relating to other people and acquire more effective social skills (for example, learning to care for others or disagree with them), in particular through experimentation with alternative behaviors.
  • Group members can discuss their perceptions of each other and receive feedback on how they are perceived by the group and its individual members.
  • The group to some extent recreates the world familiar to its members - a social microcosm, a model of social reality, and does this the stronger, the more the group members differ in age, interests, origin, socio-economic status, types of problems, etc.
  • Advisory groups tend to offer their members understanding and support, which enhances group members' willingness to explore and resolve issues they come to the group with.

Group process

Group process can be seen as a powerful catalyst for personal change.

Stages of development of the advisory group

According to J. Corey, advisory groups develop, and in this process the following stages can be distinguished: [7]

  • formation of the group.
  • orientation phase .
  • transitional stage .
  • working stage .
  • the stage of combining and consolidating the experience gained, focused on the application of the group members received in the group, whatever it is to everyday life.
  • stage of post-group activities and evaluation of group performance .
Team Leadership and Consultant Personality

Gerald Corey lists a number of characteristics vital to an effective consultant: [8]

  • effective group management is connected with the way of life that the consultant demonstrates to the group in deed , and not on the words that he says, but which are not supported by him.
  • psychological (emotional) presence - emotional involvement of the consultant in the work with group members.
  • self-confidence, awareness of one's influence on others , and its productive use.
  • courage in interaction with group members (taking risks, admitting one's mistakes rather than "hide behind the role" of a consultant, engage in productive confrontation, etc.)
  • willingness to confront to ensure the process of self-exploration in clients.
  • sincerity and authenticity .
  • sense of self identity .
  • faith in the group process and enthusiasm .
  • ingenuity and creativity .

When leading a group, the consultant needs to determine the level, relevance and usefulness of self-disclosure . According to J. Corey, as well as I. Yalom [9] , the consultant's self-disclosure process should be useful primarily to his clients. As he notes, with insufficient self-disclosure of a consultant in a group in which he works within a certain role, and clearly defined for himself - for example, a consultant, he can "hide behind the facade" of professionalism, and also lose his personal identity in the group. Possible reasons for insufficient self-disclosure are: - fears of appearing unprofessional or losing the respect of group members; - the need to maintain a distance or the desire to establish a certain type of relationship, for example - only a consultant / client, doctor / patient relationship - which can reduce communication of individuals to formal communication. At too much self-disclosure to the group, counselors are often motivated by a need/desire to be heard and accepted, or may be drawn into being overly forthcoming by group members. [10]

Group management skills and techniques
"difficult" members of the group, whose actions should usually be considered, according to J. Corey, as part of the group process, since this is not only a matter of responsibility of the consultant leading the group. To prevent such members from draining the group and hindering productive work with others, it is often helpful to draw the attention of the group to such "problem" members, show them how they look in the eyes of others, and also draw the attention of the other group members to their own reactions to reluctant group members rather than just focusing on working with them. At the same time, J. Corey recommends that the consultant actively work with his own reaction to the resistance of the group members, since if they are ignored, the consultant may be "turned off" from interaction with the group [11]

J. Corey, drawing on the work of Edwin J. Nolan, [12] talks about the following skills of an effective group leader consultant: [13]

  • active listening attention to the speaker and sensitivity to communication at the verbal and non-verbal levels.
  • paraphrasing what the speaker says, in particular, so that the meaning of what was said (including, in particular, feelings, thoughts, experiences, understanding of the "problem" and attitude towards them) becomes clear to him and other members of the group, as well as to providing feedback to group members and letting them know that they understand and relate to what they are saying.
  • clarification - focusing attention on the key topic, problem and attitude to it, and its comprehensive understanding.
  • summing up - bringing together the most important moments and history of group interaction, to move from one topic to another. Especially important at the end of the session.
  • question .
  • interpretation - a proposal, expressed in the form of a hypothesis, of possible explanations for something to the group members, in particular, their thoughts, feelings, behavior, their attitude towards them. Can help to see new perspectives and alternatives. It is important to offer an interpretation when the group member is ready to think about it. The consultant should be prepared that the interpretation may be rejected.
  • confrontation - means for changing group members. When done well, focuses on inconsistencies, in particular the inconsistencies between verbal and non-verbal messages that are observed in the group.
  • reflection of feelings - response to the essential points of what the client reports.
  • support - providing group members with help and reinforcement when they reveal their identity, explore painful feelings or take risks; carried out with the help of "psychological presence".
  • empathy as sensitivity to the "inner world" of the group members.
  • facilitation - the practice of expanding group experiences and helping group members enrich their goals.
  • initiative - the practice of preventing the group from being and moving outside a particular direction; Focusing group members on meaningful work.
  • goal setting is the practice of helping group members select, refine, and agree on their own goals.
  • evaluation , also - reflection - a practice that accompanies the group at all stages of the group process, aimed at oneself, one's own and / or group movement / advancement during group psychological counseling.
  • feedback - communication of observations and attitudes towards various manifestations and actions of group members.
  • advice, suggestion is a form of interaction that helps group members develop alternative ways of thinking and acting.
  • protection - the ability of a consultant to protect group members from excessive mental or physical risks associated with various aspects of being in a group, without developing into a parental position.
  • self-disclosure - the consultant's skill and knowledge about when, what, how and to what extent to reveal about himself, and what effect this will bring to the group and its participants.
  • modeling is a practice of teaching interpersonal communication during which, by observing the actions and manifestations of a consultant, group members learn to behave in the same way.
  • linking group work - the organization of interaction between members of the group, in the course of linking the work carried out by the members of the group, with the topics that are born and highlighted in the course of its work.
  • blocking - intervention by a counselor to stop unproductive behavior in a group, carried out without attacking individuals, carried out, in particular, if one member of the group invades the private world of another, asking and insisting on an answer to a very personal question, etc. P. J. Corey suggests blocking such behavioral patterns as:
    • "scapegoats" - members of the group "gang up against a specific person and express their feelings in an unacceptable way.
    • group pressure - pressure of some group members on others to achieve certain actions on their part or to implement changes. Blocking in this case is possible through the provision of feedback.
    • question - group members who ask too many questions or interrogate others may be asked to formulate direct statements instead of questions.
  • completion - the consultant's knowledge and skill about when and how to complete a work with a group member or the group as a whole.

Approaches to group psychological counseling


  • Corey D. Theory and practice of group counseling / Per. from English. E. Rachkova. - M.: Eksmo Publishing House, 2003. - 640 p. (Series "The Art of Counseling"). - ISBN 5-699-02457-3
  • Lysenko E.M., Molodichenko T.A. Group psychological counseling: a short course of lectures: a textbook. - Moscow: Vlados-Press, 2006. - 159 p. - (Psychology). – ISBN 5-305-00177-3

See also

Psychological counseling

Psychological assistance

Group process

Group psychotherapy


  1. Core theory and practice of group040 ↑ 90 from English. E. Rachkova. - M.: Eksmo Publishing House, 2003. - S. 6.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Cori D. Theory and Practice of Group Consultation / Pere. from English. E. Rachkova. - M.: Eksmo Publishing House, 2003. - S. 110-112.
  3. Corey D. Theory and practice of group counseling / Per. from English. E. Rachkova. - M.: Eksmo Publishing House, 2003. - S. 23-32.
  4. Corey D. Theory and practice of group counseling / Per. from English. E. Rachkova. - M.: Eksmo Publishing House, 2003. - S. 21-23.
  5. Corey D. Theory and practice of group counseling / Per. from English. E. Rachkova. - M.: Eksmo Publishing House, 2003. - S. 23.
  6. Corey D. Theory and practice of group counseling / Per. from English. E. Rachkova. - M.: Eksmo Publishing House, 2003. - S. 20-21.
  7. Corey D. Theory and practice of group counseling / Per. from English. E. Rachkova. - M.: Eksmo Publishing House, 2003. - S. 121-180.
  8. Corey D. Theory and practice of group counseling / Per. from English. E. Rachkova. - M.: Eksmo Publishing House, 2003. - S. 45-50.
  9. Yalom I. Group psychotherapy. Theory and practice. - M.: Eksmo-Press, 2000.
  10. Corey D. Theory and practice of group counseling / Per. from English. E. Rachkova. - M.: Eksmo Publishing House, 2003. - S. 52-54.
  11. Corey D. Theory and practice of group counseling / Per. from English. E. Rachkova. - M.: Eksmo Publishing House, 2003. - S. 54-55.
  12. Nolan E.J. Leadership Interventions for Promoting Personal Mastery. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 1978, 3(3). - Pp. 132-138.
  13. Corey D. Theory and practice of group counseling / Per. from English. E. Rachkova. - M.: Eksmo Publishing House, 2003. - S. 57-71.

Group psychotherapy.

Goals of group psychotherapy. The Phenomenology of Group Process

Groups are a special area of ​​counseling that are often effective in helping to resolve personal and interpersonal problems.

Group work builds on the natural tendency of people to get together, exchange opinions and feelings, and work and play together.

By participating in group work, people form social relationships, emotional attachments and often acquire new knowledge.

The most common myths about groups:

• Specially created groups are artificial and unrealistic.

• This is a "second rate" problem solver.

• Staying in a group forces people to remove their psychological protection and thus leads to the loss of their own identity.

• Group work requires people to be emotional and open up (turn inside out).

• Groups are cavalier, confrontational and hostile towards the individual, their members are brainwashed.

The first group of psychotherapeutic counseling is usually considered to be the group created in 1905 by Boston Physician Joseph Hersey Pratt .

Jacob L. Moreno - introduced the term "group therapy" into the counseling literature in the 1920s.

Alexander Wolf and Emanuel Schwartz - In the late 1940s, developed the first certification program in group therapy at the New York College of Medicine.

Kurt Lewin - Introduced the concept of field theory in the 1930s and 1940s, which became the basis for the creation of the Tavistock Small Study Groups in England and the T-group movement in the USA.

Fritz Perls - applied a Gestalt therapy approach to group work.

W. Edwards Deming - Developed and implemented the idea of ​​quality working groups designed to improve work processes, improve its results, and also to form the principles of morality among entrepreneurs.

William Schutz and Jack Gibb - drew attention to the humanistic aspect of the work of T-groups, bringing to the forefront of group work the tasks of personality development.

Carl Rogers - developed the concept of group therapy in the 1960s, which has become a model for group work focused on personal growth.

Place of group work in the general counseling system

Group - two or more people working together to achieve a mutually beneficial goal.

Groups have a unique place in counseling. Every person in everyday life is daily involved in group interactions, for example with classmates or business partners.

Grouping is part of human nature, and many personal and professional skills are acquired through group interaction.

Decision on when, where and with which clients to use the group method of work.

Situations when a group form of work is not suitable for providing counseling assistance:

  1. employees of different rank and age are gathered in the general group to work with their personal problems.
  2. when working with children who suffer from behavioral disorders and have destructive tendencies.

Group process always includes work , as "dynamic interaction between people aimed at preventing or alleviating difficulties, as well as promoting personal growth and spiritual development."

Group work - “a variety of professional activities aimed at assisting in the performance of tasks in a group setting.

Group work involves the use of group theory and group process by professionals to assist an interdependent collection of people in achieving common goals that may be personal, interpersonal, or problem-solving in nature.

Group benefits:

  1. group members can realize that they are not alone in their problems and interests, that nothing unique or abnormal is happening to them.
  2. By interacting with each other, people learn to better understand their own situations.
  3. Clients can try out new behaviors and ways of interacting because the group atmosphere provides a safe environment that provides opportunities for experimentation, change, and feedback.
  4. By observing how other members work with their problems and solve them, group members learn to do the same.
  5. The
  6. group can serve as a catalyst to help people become aware of their desire or need for individual counseling or to achieve a personal goal.
  7. group counseling can be used to help high school students learn social problem solving skills, which in turn will help them prepare for career choices
  8. learning groups created for shared learning can help participants achieve their goals,
  9. support groups can help older women deal with divorce and its aftermath,
  10. group counseling and psychological education programs can help people with heart disease cope better with stressors in everyday life.

Groups cannot be seen as a panacea suitable for all people to solve all problems.

Limitations and disadvantages of group work :

  1. in a group it is not always possible to achieve the necessary depth of elaboration of personal problems.
  2. Group pressure may force the client to take some action (such as self-disclosure) before they are really ready to do so.
  3. groups can also result in to group thinking ( groupthink mentality ), in which the stereotypical, defensive, novelty-free nature of the thought process becomes the norm, and any creativity in the approach to solving problems is suppressed.
  4. Individuals may try to use them to evade reality or for some selfish purpose, and thereby disrupt the process of the group's work.
  5. Group leaders are not always able to find a time for group work that is suitable for everyone to take part in it.
  6. The difficult question is whether the groups reflect the social environment in which the members of the group usually find themselves. Otherwise, what is learned from group experience cannot be applied in real life.
  7. if any stages of group development are not completed successfully, group work can become regressive, unproductive, and even destructive (eg, scapegoating, group narcissism, projection).

ASGW has developed educational standards for the following types of groups:

Orientational/psychological and educational groups

Consulting/Groups of Solving Interpersonal Problems

Psychotherapy groups and personal reconstruction

Target groups


Group Marathon


Traditional group types

Orientation/psycho-educational groups (psycho-educational groups on university and college campuses)

Preventive or educational work.

Purpose - to teach group members how to properly behave in situations of potential danger (for example, AIDS), to cope with life development problems (for example, aging) or unforeseen life crises (such as the death of a loved one), containment of aggression, relationships between the sexes and the acquisition of learning skills.

Groups of this type usually work in educational institutions.

One of the most important parts of the workflow is discussing how group members can personalize the information they receive in the context of group work.

Various teaching materials are used:

  1. unfinished stories,
  2. puppet games,
  3. movies,
  4. audio recordings of interviews,
  5. guest speakers.

Other age-appropriate means (written materials) are used in work with adults.

This form of group work is short-term.

Counseling/Interpersonal Problem Solving Groups

The goal is to help members solve common but often difficult life problems through interpersonal support and problem solving.

An additional goal is to help group members develop interpersonal problem solving skills.

Group work often does not have a clearly defined career guidance, educational, personal, social or developmental focus.

Signs that distinguish between interpersonal problem solving groups and psycho-educational groups.

  1. Group counseling is more suitable for resolving temporary or long-term psychological problems, while orientation and psycho-educational group work is recommended as a regular educational event aimed at the personal growth of group members.
  2. Group counseling is more focused than psycho-educational group work, trying to change attitudes and behavior.
  3. Group counseling involves the emotional involvement of participants, while orientation and psycho-educational groups focus more on achieving understanding among participants.
  4. Group counseling is carried out in a small room, in a confidential environment, while the conditions of the classroom are more suitable for psychological and educational groups.

Group Counseling Example - Structured group sessions designed to facilitate the transition of high school graduates to college or military service. They enable students to make sense of the complex web of emotions they are experiencing at that moment, providing information to help develop a positive cognitive attitude towards what they are about to do.

Learn more