The psychology of goals: A practice-friendly review

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This chapter, ‘The psychology of goals: A practice-friendly review’, examines psychological evidence and theory on goals and goal processes, and draws out implications for clinical practice. Research indicates that psychological wellbeing is associated with the actualisation of goals: having important goals in one’s life, believing that they are attainable, progressing towards them (at an appropriate pace), and achieving them. These processes, however, are mediated by several significant goal dimensions, such as how important the goals are, whether the goals are ‘approach’ or ‘avoidance’, and the extent to which the goals are conscious. Goals can be conceptualised as existing in a hierarchical framework, with ‘higher order’ goals achieved through ‘lower order’ goals. Here, wellbeing is also associated with lower levels of goal conflict, and more effective means of goal-actualisation. This conceptual framework can be used to facilitate the process of formulation in therapy, and to inform therapeutic practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorking with goals in counselling and psychotherapy
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2018


  • Goals
  • goal oriented practice
  • Goal setting
  • Goal conflict
  • Motivation
  • Approach-avoidance
  • Instrinic-extrinsic
  • Goal processes
  • Goal hierarchy
  • Synergy

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