What are 'outcomes' in counselling?

'Outcomes' is a jargonistic word in therapy and coaching, and other professional services. But what does it mean for you, the client?


An outcome refers to the end result of your therapeutic process; the impact on your life and outlook. An outcome changes you because you gain new perspectives - how to see things differently, new options you didn't think you had, or feeling so much happier and healthier than you have in a while.

You might want to get rid of that lump in your throat that needs releasing by speaking your mind and sharing feelings. You might want to stop feeling so stressed to the point of nausea. Or maybe you don't know what you want, where to turn or how you feel - you just want to stop the repetitive thoughts, unpleasant feelings, fear of the future or anxiety because you don't know where you're heading!

Does any of that sound familiar?

If so, the outcome for you might be feeling better - more relaxed, confident or peaceful. Or perhaps having greater self-esteem after sharing your thoughts and feelings, gaining a clear direction to move in and being able to make decisions that will help you get to that better place. Maybe you'd like to change your vision for the future and have an idea of the steps you need to take to get there. 

Another outcome for you as a client may be a better understanding of how you could do things differently. You could change how you respond to the negative behaviours of others, work on putting boundaries in place to protect your sense of well-being and learn to say no when you didn't think you could.

Other outcomes might be improved knowledge, more understanding, more personal power and choice about what is going on for you in your life. It can be things to help you feel good, help you know your options and ideas, and what it means for you and your choices and decision-making.

Outcomes are the changes and improvements that take place inside of you. They represent the different way you see things now, and your understanding of how you got here and your place in the scenario perhaps.

Sometimes we're so focussed on the problem or the end goal that we don't even see the process we've been through. 'Process' is another jargonistic word, and it describes the stages or steps you take throughout your work in counselling or coaching (or other work) that give you something positive and useful at the end of it.

This is the power of being heard and understood, acknowledged and appreciated. Not the words, but the underlying message is what we want people to hear - the awareness, understanding - the message - which you are trying to explain to someone (words, feelings, beliefs, expectations and more).

Listening to someone means you will hear what they say to you, but you will interpret it from what you know and understand of the world. Your world, experiences and, therefore, expectations create your own perceptions. Whether it be people, a business or family members, different scenarios and events will be interpreted differently from individual experiences.

Counselling allows someone else to be there with you (empathising, seeing what you see, or hearing the message behind your words) and confirm it. They can feel the truth of what you're telling them about your life, beliefs, needs and values.

The important thing is to know your aims and objectives from counselling so that the 'outcomes' are the ones you need at the end of the process…

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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