Plain Language Summary: SMART Goals & Mental Health

Goal setting can be used as a therapeutic tool to improve mental health. It can be a helpful intervention if other therapeutic tools are difficult to adapt to meet client needs, especially for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). Goal setting is a form of self-determination. Self-determination means that an individual makes decisions and acts for themselves according to what they want. Opportunities for this type of independence is especially important for people with IDD because their independence is often limited in many ways. Mental health can improve through setting and achieving personalized goals.

Goal setting can be more beneficial with certain details included. The person setting the goal should consider how they will benefit from the goal and write their goal down. As they develop the goal, it helps to make it a SMART goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

S – Specific

A goal should include exactly what the person wants to achieve and how. It might include a time frame, other people who should be involved, needed preparation, or location.

M – Measurable

The person should be able to monitor their progress as they work on the goal. They should make a plan for how they intend to do so. This can include smaller tasks, due dates, or collecting other forms of information about their efforts.

A – Attainable

A good goal should be challenging, but something the person can realistically achieve. They should consider whether they have enough time, resources, and skill to make it happen as planned.

R – Relevant

Goal setting is more beneficial when the person feels connected to it. The goal setter should make sure the goal is helping them in some way. They should also consider how they can incorporate their personal preferences or desires into their plan.

T – Time-bound

Setting a goal should include a clear and realistic time limit. There should be enough time to complete the planned task while still creating a challenge.

SMART goal setting can be used for making personal achievements, and it also improves mental health. It can be beneficial as part of a therapeutic plan or done on an individual basis.

For more information, read the MHDD SMART Goals & Mental Health fact sheet.

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