An image of a woman with "The Mission Journal" journal in her lap to represent the topic of the article - Finding Purpose And Meaning In Life, The Therapist Way

Finding Purpose And Meaning In Life, The Therapist Way

A while back, I wrote an article about finding purpose and meaning, exploring why it was important to have a sense of purpose and meaning. Today I’m going to expand on that by sharing how a therapist might help a client find their own sense of meaning and purpose in life.



Finding Purpose, What Does That Even Mean?


In its simplest of terms, a purpose is why you do something or why something exists (Cambridge Dictionary). But in the context we’re using it in this article, it means what gives you a sense of direction, whether big or small, it’s that thing you have in your life that gives you meaning (Everyday Health). And that can really be anything. For some it might be their family, for others, it could be painting, while for me it’s to help people avoid ending up like me.


Our sense of purpose will also change as we change because life always changes (The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley). When I was a suicidal teen, my purpose was to get wasted on drugs and try as many as I could, because it gave me a reason not to end my life. If I died as a result of that drug use, then that would have been ok too. Since getting my shit together, I want to help people avoid getting into anything like my state of mind back then. That’s my purpose, and why I created this blog.




The Journey To Finding Purpose And Meaning In Life


Finding purpose in life is a deeply personal and introspective journey. While certain counselling methods can provide guidance and support, it’s important to remember that each individual’s path to finding purpose and meaning is unique.


Self-reflection and exploration

One thing we therapists like to do is encourage our clients to engage in self-reflection by asking thought-provoking questions about their values, passions, and interests. To aid in this, we assist clients in exploring their experiences, successes, and challenges to identify patterns or themes that may provide clues to their purpose. We also help clients identify their strengths, talents, and skills that can be utilised in meaningful ways. This is why I created my recovery capital worksheet.


All too often, when people are at the point of seeing a therapist, they’ve stopped valuing the things they’re good at and have become fixated on the negatives in life. This is why we’ll try to teach our clients skills such as how to challenge thoughts (reframing, silver lining, and putting thoughts on trial), while also explaining cognitive biases and how we can develop them, maintain them, and overcome those biases. This is also why journaling is such a go-to self-care suggestion in and outside of a therapy setting.


One way you could use this in finding your purpose is to take up journaling. There are many websites and blogs that outline a series of journal prompts that can help you start. You can also check out my 8 journal prompts article by clicking here. Furthermore, why not also check out my cognitive biases and articles on thought challenges to help develop those skills?




Values clarification

A therapist can help clients identify and prioritise their core values. For example, I’ve had a few clients who have found themselves paralysed by a decision they want to make. Therefore, understanding what truly matters to them can guide their decision-making and the pursuit of finding purpose and meaning in their lives.


One of the ways we might do this is to support our clients in aligning their actions and goals with their values, helping them live a more purposeful life. A good way to work out your values is to use positive psychology.


Goal setting and action planning

Goals are an important part of most therapies. The reason this is so common is that having a recovery goal can help guide the sessions, allowing the client to achieve or at least work towards that goal. I even created a set of worksheets for that purpose (understanding your difficulties, recovery capital, goal, and miracle question).


Outside of recovery, therapists and mental health coaches can also guide clients in setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals related to their potential purpose. Thereby assisting clients in creating action plans that break down their goals into actionable steps, helping them move forward on their path to purpose and meaning.


What you could do to help yourself with finding purpose and meaning in life is to create goals using the SMART goal approach. There are many goals and SMART goal worksheets you can find online and on my blog.




Narrative therapy

Therapists who have trained in utilising narrative therapy techniques can use these to help clients examine the stories they tell themselves about their lives and identities. This will help encourage clients to explore alternative narratives and perspectives that may reveal new insights and possibilities for purpose and meaning in life.


How you could use this approach could be to sit down and write what you’ve been saying about yourself over the years and write about the events that were significant or stood out to you. You could also ask your family and friends for their perspectives on shared events. Then weave that together to form a kind of life story. Once you’ve done that, you can examine this life story for insights, contradictions, and patterns.


For example, you may find that you were at your happiest doing something years ago, in which case, looking at how you could use that to find purpose and meaning could be beneficial. You might see a pattern to what’s making you unhappy, allowing you to problem-solve it, aiding in returning a sense of purpose and meaning.


Mindfulness and meditation

It’s fairly common for therapists to introduce mindfulness and meditation practices to help clients cultivate present-moment awareness, reduce distractions, and connect with their inner selves. This can be helpful for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Mindfulness can also enhance self-reflection and create space for clients to explore their values, passions, and desires more deeply. For those who find they can’t clear their mind while meditating, don’t give up yet. It may be the case that your thoughts go towards something that you’re worrying about, and if so, meditating can help you identify things to work on.


There are plenty of websites that can help you get into mindfulness and meditation, making it easy to try this out to help with self-reflection and overcoming worries. Thus, aiding you in finding purpose and meaning in life.




Exploration of interests and opportunities

By the time a client has reached out for support from a therapist, the client has likely given up on the hobbies and interests they had, and may even be passing up on new opportunities. Therefore, as therapists, we encourage clients to explore new activities, hobbies, or areas of interest that they may find fulfilling. We’ll also help the client feel confident about taking on new opportunities.


We do this for several reasons. One reason is that if they engage in these hobbies and interests that used to bring them joy but don’t anymore, then it can tell us a lot about their current mental health. It also helps clients identify potential opportunities for growth and purpose, such as volunteering, joining organisations, pursuing further education, or career changes.


More often than not, we’re likely not going to get a sense of meaning or purpose from our work. It’s great if we can, but that’s just not going to be the case for everyone. Thus, looking outside of work at their interests, hobbies, and passions can be where someone can find that sense of purpose and meaning in life.


So, if you’re looking to find a purpose or meaning in life, then first look at your work, then look at your life outside of work, including what you may have done in the past. Join a night class, take up ballroom or street dancing, or get back into an old hobby.


The picture is split in two, with the top image being of a person's hand held out with a tiny plant sprouting from it. The bottom image being of a woman sitting on top of a mountain looking at the scenery. The two images are separated by the article title - Finding Purpose And Meaning In Life, The Therapist Way


Support systems and community engagement

A lot of therapists will emphasise the importance of social connections and engaging with supportive communities. That’s because having a good social support network can really make a difference in life, and not just for the purpose of therapy. Knowing you have a good social support network, even if you don’t use it, has wellbeing benefits as well.


This is known as perceived social support, which is something I learned last year in my monthly supervision. Perceived social support refers to how people perceive friends, colleagues, and family members regarding their availability to provide functional and overall support during times of need (Hailey, Fisher, Hamer, and Fancourt, 2023).


Therefore, we encourage clients to seek out mentors, befriending services, support groups, or like-minded individuals who can provide guidance and encouragement. This can also be used for their purpose-seeking journey. We also encourage them to build deeper relationships with their partners, family, and friends. Turning existing relationships into safe spaces is an easier first step, but you don’t have to stop there.


So this is me encouraging you to do the same. Develop the relationships you already have and look for new ones. Talking to the people in life or with people you might find with shared interests on platforms like, can help you find out what your purpose might be and help bring that sense of meaning you’re looking for.


Before I decided to go to university as a mature student at 25, a friend told me they thought I’d make a good counsellor. Their reason was because I was always willing to listen and I did so without judgment, meaning I’d created a safe space for my friends without realising it. This was one of the main reasons I went to university to study psychology and counselling. Turning my life around.


You could also check out mental health organisations and join support groups and mentor programmes. When I was in my final year when doing my undergraduate degree, I became a mentor at my university, and I supported a first year. So if you’re a student, see what’s on offer at your school, college, or university. My partner also has a mentor where they work, so check what your workplace has to offer. There are many peer support service options out there, you just need to look for them.






It’s important to remember that finding purpose and meaning in life isn’t always a linear process. It may require exploration, trial and error, and adjustments along the way. A skilled counsellor can provide a safe and non-judgmental space for clients to explore their thoughts and feelings, offer guidance, and empower them to uncover their unique purpose in life.


However, there are also ways for you to do that yourself, hence this article outlining how a therapist might help guide someone towards their purpose and meaning in life, so you could do it for yourself. I hope this article has fulfilled that and will help you on your journey of self-discovery and finding your purpose. Happy travels.


As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with finding your purpose and meaning in life in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, you can sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, click the red bell icon in the bottom right corner to get push notifications for new articles.


Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, then there are PayPal and Ko-fi donation payment options below. Until next time, Unwanted Life readers.






Hailey, V., Fisher, A., Hamer, M., & Fancourt, D. (2023). Perceived Social Support and Sustained Physical Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic. International journal of behavioral medicine30(5), 651–662. Retrieved from and

10 thoughts on “Finding Purpose And Meaning In Life, The Therapist Way

  1. I actually was talking about this very topic with my therapist. I still feel lost on my life on the eve of my 36th birthday.

  2. My therapist is always encouraging me to develop my social groups and to do some self discovery for finding meaning to my life. Very insightful post!

    • Social groups are so important, especially for men who often see theirs disappear when in a long term relationship. It’s one of the reasons men do poorly when long term relationships end later in life (50+). Thanks for commenting

  3. Significant and insightful post. Not only do you start with the unique path (and everyone has their own), but I love that you provide a plethora of help (resources) for anyone and everyone. Mindfulness and meditation have been a huge help along my path, and it gives me the opportunity to help others (finding my purpose). Always great to tune into your articles. Keep positively impacting the world. Hope you are well. ✌️

Leave a Reply

Skip to content