Welcome to Goals in Therapy

Goals in therapy is a website dedicated to the use of goals, goal-oriented practice, shared-decision making and goal-based outcomes (GBOs), across physical and psychological health settings.

It is the host site for the Goal-based outcome (GBO) tool and other resources related to goal-oriented practice and shared-decision making.

The goal-based outcomes (GBO) tool is a simple and effective method to measure progress and outcomes of an intervention.  It grew out of work with children, young people and their families in mental health and emotional well-being settings, and is now being used across adult mental health setting. It can be used in any setting that is change-focused and goal-oriented – including physical health contexts.

The tool tracks what is arguably the most important thing to measure in any intervention: “Is this helping you make progress towards the things that you really want help with?”

The GBO is free to use under a creative commons license and is currently available in English, Norwegian, Japanese, French, Portuguese, Welsh, Italian and Russian versions. If you want to translate the GBO in to another language please get in touch

Guidance on using the GBO can be found here 

If you have content you feel would complement the site please contact editorial team via the contact page.

Working with Goals in Psychotherapy & Counselling

‘Working with goals in psychotherapy and counselling’ is book written and edited by Mick Cooper and Duncan Law and published by Oxford University Press published January 2018 and available from all good bookshops.

goals book

Recent evidence suggests that working with goals in counselling and psychotherapy can support positive therapeutic change. Goals can empower clients and give them hope: helping them feel that they have the capacity to act towards achieving their desired futures. Goals can help focus, and direct, clients’ and therapists’ attention, building a better therapeutic alliance. Through negotiating and setting goals, clients can develop a deeper insight into what it is they really want in life: a crucial first step towards being able to get there.

Policy developments in both child and adult mental health services support the use of goals in therapy. Goal-setting and goal-tracking can help to ensure that therapy is personalised to the individual client: so that they are working towards objectives that are of genuine importance to them.

The historical developments of psychological therapies have led to differing cultures, psychologies, and philosophical assumptions and brought about varying attitudes and approaches to goals in therapeutic practice. Working with Goals in Counselling and Psychotherapy brings this range of attitudes and approaches together in one volume making it the definitive, critical guide for therapists of any orientation.

The book provides practical advice on how to help clients set, and work towards, personalised goals; the tools that are available to support these processes; and the theoretical and empirical foundations of this work. It is essential reading for all therapists interested in goals in counselling, psychotherapy and psychological therapies, and how they can be used to optimise therapeutic change.

Recent reviews of the book

“This is the first and will for very many years be the best and most thoughtful volume presenting the goal oriented approach to psychotherapeutic counselling. It is a masterly compilation of excellent contributions to a subject which is arguably a key to the future success of counselling. It is the product of the collaboration of two world leaders in this area and the outcome is a rich and rewarding practical guide to combining negotiated objectives with effective evidence based counselling methods. A superb cutting edge volume which should be on the shelf of every practicing counsellor.”  – Professor Peter Fonagy, Head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, Director, Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families, National Clinical Advisor on Children’s Mental Health, NHS England


Working with Goals in Psychotherapy and Counselling is a philosophically grounded, research informed, practical text that will make you think differently about the use (and importance) of goals in therapeutic work. No matter what therapeutic approach you are trained in, there is something in this book for you. ” – Dr Terry Hanley, Programme Director of the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology, University of Manchester, UK


“In this excellent book the contributors highlight how goals can be used in therapeutic practice and from a range of different therapeutic orientations too. The co-editors, Mick Cooper and Duncan Law are to be congratulated for bringing together a theoretical and practical tour de force covering the critical aspects of working with goals in therapy. ” – Stephen Palmer, Adjunct Professor, Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Denmark