To facilitate the development of meaningful and achievable goals, practitioners need to understand the young person’s motivation, their strengths and weaknesses and the resources that are or aren’t available to them in the environments in which they live and participate.
It can be a challenge for some young people to formulate goals particularly when they have a lack of experience and are feeling overwhelmed by their circumstances. If this is the case the practitioner can start by eliciting broad goals to guide their work with a young person. The practitioner can then assist the young person to break down their overall goals into small, achievable steps. It is essential that the young person decide what those steps will be. Over time and through guided experience the young people might develop their capacity to formulate more realistic and achievable goals and plans.
Young people need to be reminded that goals are can change. At regular intervals the practitioner can make time with the young person to review goals and make necessary adjustments to ensure that they are realistic and relevant.
Interventions based on the therapeutic models should be guided by the goals of clients. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Solutions Focused Therapy (SFT) and the Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (ACRA) have specific approaches to goal setting.
C1i. Goal setting (CBT)
This element introduces the concept of SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time limited. Each of these defining characteristics of effective goal setting are described in this element
B5. Goal setting (SFT)
Goal setting is a major therapeutic task within SFT. The focus is on helping the young person imagine how he or she would like things to be different and what it will take to make that happen. For SFT to be effective goals must be personally important to the client; they cannot be goals that other people have in mind for them. Goals in SFT are framed positively as desirable things that the person wants to achieve or to have in their life, not as undesirable things they want to stop doing or to get away from.
D4. Goal setting (ACRA)
In ACRA, goal setting involves working collaboratively with the young person to identify areas of life where she or he wants to make changes and then prioritise. Like SFT Goals should be stated positively – describing what the young person will do, not what s/he won’t do (Godley, Meyers, et al., 2001; p69) In other words stating what they are moving towards rather than what they are moving away from (Neenan & Dryden, 2004).