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Creating Goals in Utah Counseling

Utah Counseling: How to Create Great Goals for Therapy

As part of your Utah Counseling experience, you will work with your therapist to create goals. Effective goals in therapy can give your counseling sessions focus, direction, and momentum. And good goals can help you watch your progress as you move through the process.

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But what makes a good therapy goal? How can you know what you need in counseling and how to get it? Today, you will learn more about the parts of good therapeutic goals. Then, you will learn how you can schedule an appointment to get started in Utah counseling

Ingredients of a “SMART” Goal

Before we cover specifics, let’s talk about goal setting. Not all goals are created equal, and the same goes for goals in therapy. But what are the parts of an impactful goal? The ingredients make a convenient acronym: SMART. (Related Article: What are SMART goals?). 

The letters of a SMART goal stand for the following parts: 


A good goal is appropriately specific. In therapy, goals should be specific enough to have a direction and focus for your appointments. But, goals should not be so specific that you are limited to talking about one thing in counseling.

For example, you might set the goal in therapy to address confidence issues. You might say “I would like to work on building my self esteem and confidence in myself”. That goal gives your therapy sessions direction, but is not so specific that you only talk about how much you hate trying on clothes at the store or how you get nervous before work presentations. Those specific issues fit under the umbrella of your overall goal. (Related article: Encouraging Sincere Change in Counseling). utah counseling


Next, the best goals are measurable. Now, that might seem odd considering we are talking about therapy! If you think of a measurable goal, you might picture something tangible. For example, maybe you think of financial goals: “I will have met my goal when I save $100”. And that’s great, but how do you translate that sort of measurement into therapy?

There are different ways to measure progress in therapy. (Related article: What to Expect in Individual Therapy). Your therapist might have you take regular questionnaires or surveys to track your symptoms and watch for progress throughout therapy. Or, your therapist might ask you to rate your progress generally on a scale. For example, your counselor might say something like “On a scale from 1-10, where 1 is you feel no confidence in yourself and 10 is you feel perfectly confident, where are you currently?”. If your therapist takes this route, they might also ask you to set an ideal goal from 1-10 for the end of therapy. For example, you might decide that when you are at an 8/10 when it comes to your confidence, you will have effectively completed the therapy process. (Related article: Debunking Counseling Myths- “Therapy Isn’t About Problem Solving”). 

These are just two examples of ways that your therapist can make your therapeutic goals measurable. But, there are many other methods that your therapist might use to track your progress. Don’t hesitate to ask your therapist how they prefer to set and track goals. They are here to help!


A goal should be attainable. Especially in therapy! Keep your expectations realistic. Your progress will not go from crisis to perfection in a few weeks. Consider a realistic point where you’d hope to be when therapy is over. Maybe ask yourself, if the therapy process is successful, what will that look like? What will change? How much will change?

For example, you might come into marriage counseling for communication issues with your spouse. Maybe you are arguing multiple times a day and you are both considering divorce. When setting goals, it would be important to set a realistic expectation for this situation. It would not be realistic in this situation to expect to complete the goal that you and your spouse “will never fight again” after therapy. Conflict is normal and expected. (Related Article: Achieving Your Relationship Goals). Instead, maybe try setting the goal that you and your spouse will be able to better recover from arguments, or that you will create more emotional safety in your relationship. Those goals are positive and ambitious, but also realistic and attainable, too. 


Therapy goals should be relevant to your life and situation. And, they should be relevant to therapy! You might come into therapy and think “I want to quit drinking caffeine”. What a great goal! However, therapists are not dietitians or medical doctors. So, instead of saying “I want to quit drinking caffeine”, a better therapeutic goal would be something like this. “I want to work on better coping skills for my anxiety, so that I rely less on caffeine”. That goal is still relevant to your life and your current struggle, but it is focused on things that can be addressed in talk therapy. 


A good goal is not indefinite. And the same goes for your experience in therapy! Your goals should have some sort of time limit. Now, that doesn’t mean that after an exact number of weeks you will stop going to therapy. And it doesn’t mean that if you don’t achieve the goal in a specific time frame that you will fail. It means that you create thoughtful deadlines for checking in and reviewing your progress. 

Your therapist will automatically check in once a year to review your goals, but that is just a general guideline. You can check in as often as you would like. You can revise and edit goals throughout the therapy process. The important part is to maintain momentum and progress throughout, no matter the length of time of your therapy experience. 

Utah Therapy Can Help You Set and Achieve Goals

Feeling stuck? Not sure where to start? We can help.  Start individual, couples, or family therapy in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork, or via Telehealth for anyone in Utah.

Written by Lauren Adkins


Lauren Adkins

Writer for the Center for Couples and Families


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