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Motivation and Goals in Therapy

Motivation and Goals in Therapy

When working with clients one’s  strategy needs to include reference to the client’s motivation for dealing with the issue that they are presenting, presuming that they are indeed motivated!

Negotiate goals

Some clients will have clearly defined goals when they arrive at your office. For example, they wish to be a non-smoker today, or they want to lose 20 lbs in 3 months. However they may not have clearly defined goals. For example, an anxious client may want to “feel better”.

Whatever the client presents, you need to know their goal which may mean working with them to elicit them. The traditional view on goals is that they need to be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-oriented

In my opinion SMART goals are fine, and a necessary end-product of the goal setting process, but there is a step which can, with some clients, be introduced first which can have great benefits. I call this GOFORIT goals:

  • Gigantic
  • Organismic
  • Fantastic
  • Open-ended
  • Ridiculous
  • Impossible
  • Time-oriented

Here I am looking for impossible dreams. Why? Because if you encourage your client to dream, then opportunities open up, and this makes the SMART goals more likely to be achieved.

Lets look at an example. Your client presents with problems due to stress at work. He is an accountant in a multi-national corporation. He indicates that there are all sorts of issues with people and processes but the bottom line is that he just does not want to be in that environment. You take him through a hypnotic process to elicit his GOFORIT goal in terms of work and he imagines running a four star restaurant on the harbour in Monte Carlo. Is this a SMART goal? Not really, but it could fit the criteria for GOFORIT. It is gigantic, fantastic, open-ended, and most would consider it to be impossible and ridiculous (from where this client is starting). It will also be time-oriented as he will have seen himself at a particular age in his imagination.

The area where GOFORIT goals often fall down is on the oganismic criterion. Does this goal fit with everything else that is going on in the client’s life? For this client it may do, but may not.

Having found this image, you have an opportunity to work with the client to find out what he really does want to do now and to chunk down to the specifics of what is, at this point, SMART. Perhaps this client decides to continue with his current role while training part time to be a chef with the intention of opening his own restaurant in two years time.

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