Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand, but they can also be experienced separately. Going to therapy is usually one of the best forms of treatment for both conditions, with cognitive behavioral therapy being the most popular type of therapy. Research has shown CBT to be effective in treating multiple mental health conditions, such as panic disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, etc.
Therapy Goals for Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand, but they can also be experienced separately. Going to therapy is usually one of the best forms of treatment for both conditions, with cognitive behavioral therapy being the most popular type of therapy. Research has shown CBT to be effective in treating multiple mental health conditions, such as panic disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, etc. In therapy you and your therapist will set attainable goals for your progress, and you will spend your sessions learning techniques to help you achieve these goals.
Anxiety Disorders Treated by Therapy
Anxiety is a complicated mental health condition that covers a broad set of symptoms. In general, anxiety itself is the body’s response to stress and fear. It is the catalyst for the human body’s fight-or-flight response. A small amount of anxiety is normal, but for some they can experience extreme bouts of anxiety for a continuous amount of time. Individuals suffering from extreme anxiety related symptoms are more likely to be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is a common anxiety disorder and with this disorder, people can feel extreme levels of anxiety in a number of situations, like work, school, social outings, etc. It is termed ‘generalized’ because it does not have to be anything specific that triggers symptoms. Generalized anxiety disorder is not the only condition in terms of anxiety that people can have and there is a wide range of disorders that falls under this category. Some of the different anxiety disorders include:
- Panic Disorder: Anyone struggling with panic disorder deals with repeated panic attacks that can become very intense very quickly. When someone is having a panic attack, they can literally feel like they are dying.
- Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia): Social anxiety causes a fear of social situations because people may believe that the way they behave will be viewed negatively. Performance anxiety also falls under social phobia and people will be afraid of doing things like giving speeches.
- Specific Phobia: This is a disorder where a person has a fear of a specific object or situation. People can have fears of just about anything, such as spiders, heights, clowns, and much more. These fears are typically exaggerated in their mind, as there is no actual danger.
- Agoraphobia: Those with agoraphobia have a major fear of places or situations where they might feel trapped. It can be a very debilitating condition, as many people become so anxious that they cannot leave their homes.
The classification of anxiety disorders matters in relation to therapy. How your therapist goes about designing a treatment plan for you and setting goals for anxiety therapy will be different based on what disorder you have. Although there are many forms of therapy to treat anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy are typically the most effect approaches
What is a Treatment Plan
For a therapist or counselor to provide effective coping skills when managing anxiety symptoms, they will develop a uniquely tailored treatment plan. Treatment plans are a good way to track progress and ensure that clients are receiving the appropriate care. When a therapist creates a client’s treatment plan they will include the goals that you have both discussed and agreed on. Having concrete goals set out at the beginning of your therapy is an important way to help you overcome your mental health conditions and get the most out of your treatment. They give you the chance to actively engage with what you are taught in therapy. Whether you are seeking treatment for anxiety or depression or both, a solid treatment plan will have set goals, measurable objectives, and a reasonable timeline for your progress. The treatment plan will also be tailored to your specific needs and what you are hoping to get out of therapy.
General Structure of Goals
A popular approach for patient goal setting is SMART goals. The SMART approach is frequently utilized in cognitive behavioral therapy .The SMART approach incorporates a set of 5 criteria to develop effective goal setting. SMART stands for:
- Specific: Clearly defined objectives that include actions you will need to take or skills you need to learn to be able to hit your goals. By setting a goal that is specific, rather than vague, and incorporating how you will accomplish it will make it more attainable. Also keep in mind that it is okay to be flexible when you need to be (ex. Having to change the time of day you actively work on your goal) and give yourself grace to make sure you can meet your goals.
- Measurable: Goals should be quantifiable and measurable so you know how far you’ve come. This includes the standards that will be used to measure your progress towards those goals. Being able to clearly see your progress will help keep you motivated to meet your goals and also give you an idea of whether a goal and your actions are actually working to improve the symptoms of your mental health condition.
- Achievable: You need to set goals that challenge you to grow. They should also be realistic for you to meet in a certain time frame, so that when you meet these goals you see that you are fully capable of achieving things for yourself and grow your confidence levels. If you set unrealistic goals and can’t meet them then this can cause you to give up entirely and possibly even set you back in your treatment.
- Relevant: Goals should directly relate to the mental health conditions and symptoms you are experiencing. They should also be inspiring to you specifically to keep you motivated to continue trying. If you're uninterested in that goal then you are less likely to stick with it and might give up when obstacles present themselves, as they naturally do. This also means that the goal should have significance to you and not to your therapist.
- Time-Bound: Having a clear time-line for you to meet your goals will help you stay on track and not want to give up as easily. Being able to conceptualize a time frame will also help you to prioritize your goals and work them into a potentially busy lifestyle. You can set either long-term or short-term goals, as long as there is a tangible deadline in place.
Individuals can also take the concept and create SMART goals on their own to change any lifestyle behaviors they wish, which may lead to healthier and happier lives.
Therapy Goals for Anxiety
As stated above, the specific goals that you have will depend on the type of anxiety you experience and will be established between you and your therapist. Some general example goals for anxiety could be:
-A client wants to be less isolated and will initiate at least one social contact per week for the month.
-A client wants to better manage anxiety during the week and will reduce panic attacks from the current 7 times a week to 4 times or fewer in the next three months and will track the number of panic attacks they have in this time period.
-Client wants to correct distorted, spiraling thoughts that trigger anxiety and will practice challenging those thoughts with realistic thoughts and breathing techniques when they occur over the next two weeks and will journal about their thoughts.
Therapy Goals for Depression
Depression treatment goals can address a range of symptoms. If you do not know what goals you want to set then your therapist can help you decide what is important to work on for you.
Some general example goals for depression could be:
-Client wants to have less negative thoughts about themselves and will practice positive self-talk when negative thoughts start to encroach for the next two months and will complete a scored questionnaire to determine if negative thoughts decrease.
-Client has trouble with sleeping and will keep a sleep journal over the next two weeks to identify any unhealthy habits that should be changed.
-Client wants to be more active in order to boost their mood and will engage in at least one physical activity, such as going for a walk, three times a week for the next three weeks and will track how many times they complete an activity.
Need Help for Anxiety and Depression?
If you are looking for therapy services for mental health concerns, or if you have any questions regarding our services, call Gemini Health today! Our highly skilled mental health professionals are experienced in treating various mental and behavioral health concerns. They offer both individual and group therapy. Plus, there are no wait times to join groups. Call (301) 363-1063 and speak to our staff to schedule your appointment today!