Agency is the sense of control that you feel in your life, your capacity to influence your own thoughts and behavior, and have faith in your ability to handle a wide range of tasks and situations. Your sense of agency helps you to be psychologically stable, yet flexible in the face of conflict or change.
Developing agency is a common goal in psychotherapy, and many therapists aim to help people act autonomously in a way that works best for their individual needs and lifestyles. Agency is also important for people who have mental health conditions that might interfere with their decision-making. For example, the director of a psychiatric hospital might discuss the importance of giving the people who stay there agency–the ability to exert some control over their everyday lives and to act on their own environments.