As an outcome oriented practitioner, I am interested from the outset of psychotherapy to know what clients would like to have happen.
One of the key features of outcomes that I look out for is that they have a sense of connection. A felt sense of grounded reality, a feeling that they are, with growth, possible. So what can go wrong?
Sometimes, outcomes have more of a sense of the unreal, more the nature of a dream. They can feel more like a fantasy, an alternate reality that does not flow from where you are. Where this is the case they are likely to set us up for disillusionment, self judgement, and pain, as they remain resolutely beyond reach.
Another issue that can arise with outcomes is that we have a belief that we want them, but we have yet to allow ourselves to fully sense what it is that we are asking for. For example, we imagine we want a career change, but deny the inevitable hard work and potential discomfort of retraining, building our network and stepping out of our comfort zone into something new.
So what can be done to make sure an outcome is one you really want, that you can realistically strive for?
1. Set out your outcome in terms of what it is (not what it is not). For example, I am going to become a self employed joiner, not I am going to leave my job and do something different.
2. Be clear what the outcome will look, sound and feel like. Step into it, imagine it from every perspective you can. Run scenarios in your mind and sense how they would be for you.
3. Be clear about what you would lose that you currently have, and what you would gain that you might not want. Life is about choices, nothing is perfect, and it’s wise to be clear about the benefits of now, and the downsides of the outcome, to make sure you still want to make the transition once this knowledge is in mind.
4. Reflect on the gap between here, and there. Be clear what you would need to change about yourself. Get a sense of what the journey will be like. Sometimes we can want an outcome, but be unprepared to put up with the discomfort of achieving it because we don't want to do what is needed. It's better to know this up front.
You know you have an outcome worth working towards when in the round it fits better for you than what you currently have, when the journey towards it is one that uplifts and energizes, and when you can truly imagine your real self inhabiting the future.
So, what do you REALLY want to have happen?