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Clinical Prompt

The technique of Goal Setting is a cognitive restructuring process, which is built upon the following principles:

  • create the future [self-fulfilling prophecies]
  • reframing [negative to positive]
  • present time perspective
  • cognitive errors [shoulds]
  • visualization [attainment]
  • intentionality

Step 1. Analyze the audience

  • Strategy #1. Novel Information Dialogue
  • Strategy #2 Social Role Opportunities
  • Strategy #3 Goal Protocol
    • Awareness
    • Analysis
    • Selection

Step 2 Define Motivational Objectives

  • Specific statement
  • Mastery statements
  • Affirmative statements
  • Proximal statements
  • Learning statement
  • Partialization

Step 3 Design a Motivational Strategy

  • Implementation Strategies
  • Mentor as Coach
    • Anticipation and coping plans
    • Focus
    • Clarity of instruction
    • Provide feedback
    • Providing additional knowledge
    • Setting the schedule for personal evaluation
    • ‘Raising the bar’

Step 4 Test & revise

Forms & Charts

Role/Goal Chart CBT#27-001
Goal Domains CBT#27-002
Goal Analysis Chart CBT#27-003
Goal Setting Chart CBT#27-004

Download Available | Forms


Motivation relates to the sustained interest or involvement in a goal oriented task.

The technique of Goal Setting is a cognitive restructuring process, which is built upon the following principles:

  • create the future [self-fulfilling prophecies] – A Self Fulfilling Prophecy is said to occur when one’s belief concerning the occurrence of some future event…makes one behave in a manner…that increases the likelihood that the expected event will occur….
  • reframing [negative to positive] – The goal should not be related to ‘I’m too fat and must lose weight’, but rather to ‘I am thin’.
  • present time perspective – The present tense time technique assists in visualizing a goal as if it already exists. A goal stated in future time is likely to always remain in the future.
  • cognitive errors [shoulds] – When you have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people “should” act, this generally means that the goals operate within the “shoulds”.
  • visualization [attainment] – You can learn new behavior sequences by imagining yourself performing the desired behavior successfully. Called covert modeling, it enables a person to identify, refine, and practice in his/her mind the necessary steps for completing a desired behavior
  • intentionality – It is expectancy in the sense of that which the expecter believes is likely to occur, rather than that which a person believes ought to occur, that leads to the behavior that fulfills the prophecy.

The purpose of this technique is to assist a child with problems in living in obtaining absolute clarity on what s/he wants in every area of his/her life. If s/he is interested in improving the quality of day-to-day experiences, then s/he must define a richer, fuller, more satisfying life. S/he must face what s/he wants. This technique is designed to be a tool to determine and clarify all of the child’s personal desires, wants, and dreams; becoming aware of what they are, assessing them and making them real by acting on them.

In order to achieve the maximum degree of value from this technique, the child must be willing to have the things s/he says s/he wants and recognize that this may be a significant change in his/her lifestyle. She must be willing to create an environment for really looking at what s/he wants, taking responsibility for getting value from the entire experience.

It must be understood that WANTS & goals are very much the same things. What you want may be a goal IF you are willing to develop and act on implementation strategies and coping skills. Children with problems in living have WANTS, but may not have goals. Motivating the child to articulate what they want, to articulate these wants in goal statements, and to commit to achieving these goals is the responsibility of the Mentor

John M. Keller proposed four main conditions leading to motivation:

  • attention
  • relevance
  • confidence
  • satisfaction potential

Referred to as ARCS, he then linked specific corresponding strategies:

  • analyze the audience
  • define motivational objectives
  • design a motivational strategy
  • test and revise.

Goals influence two important factors. First, how a performance is viewed and how a person considers s/he will perform. The effect is to govern performance efficacy. A person without goals will lack direction, purpose, and adequate assessment criteria, a deficiency that will degrade the motivational qualities of the experience.

Symptom Effectiveness

The process of motivation through goal development is a technique which can have impact on a variety of levels, but which is difficult to judge in a general way. We are aware that having strong goals and implementation strategies is a powerful tool for achievement, but we have no symptoms per se to reduce. The established research parameters are often the result of athletic performance as shown by the following examples.

Botterill [1977] demonstrated that psychological factors play an extremely important role in physical endurance testing.

  • simple goal-setting more than doubled some performance;
  • goal setting procedures have differential effects – the way the goals are set is important;
  • difficult goals produced better performance;
  • explicit goals produced better performance;
  • difficult, explicit goals when combined with group-set goal was the best condition and indicates that these factors should be used together rather than rely on only one feature in a procedure; and
  • the best performers spontaneously reset their goals during the performance. They would set and intermediate goal, achieve it, and then reset the next one and continue on through the task in self-determined segments.

Wilmore [1970] suggests that goals should be behind every performance if maximum performance parameters are to be stimulated. There is a reserve in work output above a predetermined capacity that needs to be stimulated by goal setting. Physical performance without set goals will not produce the best form of physical response. Coaches who disregard the value of this simple manipulation will not stimulate the best form of training in athletes. As has been demonstrated by champion athletes, every task of training and competition must be oriented to some particular explicit goal that will focus the athlete on functioning with the greatest efficiency in performance. A physical activity at training without a goal orientation is a wasted opportunity for improvement.

Poag-DuCharme & Brawley [1994] indicate that as an individual learns to use goals, relationships between goal related variables and behavior change. Perceptions of goal clarity, commitment and influence increased as adherers experienced the program. Learners become quite knowledgeable about what they should do, but the frequency and nature of their participation often is not in concert with that knowledge. When using goals, it is what the individuals do, not what they say, that is important. Behavioral compliance should be the main assessment criterion when assessing the effectiveness of goal instruction and goal setting programs.

Time for Mastery

Goal development is easy to master and can have impact almost immediately. However, for children with problems in living, the problem is to develop the motivational intent to set goals and implementation strategies. Additionally, the technique is not well formulated in the motivational aspect. Therefore, the amount of time is undetermined.


Step 1. Analyze the audience

While people with problems in living, particularly adolescents, are likely to deny any desire for anything, [except perhaps that you get off my back!] they are goal driven as is everyone else. Not only are they goal driven, but to a large extent their goals are like everyone else’s. They want success, happiness and some level of power over their lives. What is so difficult to understand is that their goal hierarchy is so structured that the implementation strategies often fail to achieve their purpose or the purpose is so ill conceived as to have no meaning.

Attempting to get a handle on the true goal structure of a recalcitrant child will often require a series of procedures since any one is likely to meet with some resistance. It may also take some creative action on the part of the Mentor.

The Mentor must understand that much of the child’s present implementation strategy may be based upon avoidance of pain and protection of self as opposed to goals of learning and promotion. How you carry yourself as a professional person will be critical to your ability to create a trust relationship which might allow the child with problems in living to make a leap of faith. As has been said ‘nobody cares what you know, until they know that you care”.

The dialogue of goal development will need to focus the child’s attention on the success/failure of the avoidance strategy in reaching his/her goals. It is not sufficient for the Mentor to simply state the obvious, but rather to help the child conclude the situation. Thus the dialogue will probably need to be Socratic questioning which brings new information to the child.

Strategy #1. Novel Information Dialogue

You might begin probing the child’s goal hierarchy by asking him/her what his/her goals are. If s/he resists or insists that s/he has no goals, you might state one or more of the following, which are contrived to arouse interest. Share the additional information as well. Keep notes on these conversation or any goal fragments that may come out so you can refer to them at a later date.

You can have anything you want, you just cannot have everything you want.

This is about choice, focus and persistence. All of us need to decide what we want and then persistently go for it. At the same time we will need to realize that choosing what to go for means that there will be things we cannot go for, because time is a limited product.

Conversely, you might ask the child to define what s/he does not want. Often children with problems in living are much more prepared to talk in the negative.

Once you commit to a goal, you can only have two results: You achieve the goal, or you have reasons [excuses] why you didn’t.

We tend to get confused about whether we really want to do something. We say we want to and then we don’t do it. There are only three categories we can fall into:

  • I want to want to
  • I want to
  • I will

The only category that works is “I will”. “Do or not do. There is no try.” – Yoda in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.

Most of us are motivated by one of two things: inspiration or desperation.

Most successful people choose inspiration as their motivation.

In order to be successful at anything in life, you need to take the CPR approach:

  • Consistent in your actions
  • Persistent in your motivation
  • Resistant to setbacks and naysayers

Ask the child whether s/he wants the same things today as s/he wanted last week, last year? Talk about the consistency of actions and how these actions help/hinder him/her in reaching goals.

Don’t wish things were easier; wish you were better! – Jim Rohn

Instead of complaining and wishing, take the necessary steps to make yourself stronger. This is a reversal of perspective. If the child indicates that every thing is wrong and nothing ever goes right, make the external problem into an internal problem. See Technique #24 – Attribution Training.

Chance favors the prepared mind – Louis Pasteur

Ask the child to think about this the next time s/he spends the evening in front of the TV. Ask – For what are you preparing your mind?

What currently is in your life that you would like not to be there?

What currently is not in your life that you would like to be there?

By bringing the goal hierarchy into consciousness, it gives the child a chance to change the actions and re-learn the behaviors. It allows us to ‘debug’ the system.
The child with problems in living is unlikely to be able to articulate goals both because of the nature of the nonconscious context, but also because of the negatively valued aspects of his/her emotional structure. Yet these goal orientations and the negative thoughts continue to operate.

Merely thinking about an action increases the likelihood of it occurring. By talking about goal development and implementation strategies and tactics, you increase the chances that the child will act to develop goals.

Don’t forget that the emotional context is also important. Emotions place value. By articulating a novel scenario in which the student can foresee the possibility that they may be able to overcome the barriers, the Mentor opens the door of HOPE.

Strategy #2 Social Role Opportunities

Consider the development of roles along with goals. The development of social role opportunities is profound. Ask the child to consider what his/her social roles are and how these roles influences his/her opportunities.

The Mentor and child can start by expanding their thinking about social roles by using a modified nominal group technique. Each [child & Mentor] should name one social role in turn until a list of twenty or more social roles are defined e.g., friend, neighbor, student, brother/sister, etc. Roles should be stated without thoughts, and ‘weeded’ later. The Mentor should be responsible for listing the roles on a piece of paper as the process proceeds.

After the roles are listed on the Mentor’s paper, s/he and the child should peruse the list to identify duplicate roles, attainable roles, and positive and negative social roles, The Mentor will then have the child identify and list down the left side of the Role/Goal Chart [CBT#27-001] all the roles that are applicable and all the roles that are attainable and desired. Once the child has listed these roles, the Mentor and child should discuss how well s/he [child] performs in these roles place a plus [+] or minus [-] sign in the next column indicating the performance quality. This process indicates those roles in which the child feels s/he performs well and those in which s/he does not.

For all roles in which the child is not satisfied with his/her performance, a goal may be determined which would increase satisfaction. Finally, the child should indicate how confident s/he is s/he can reach the goal and how much satisfaction with this achievement s/he expects to have.

The same basic dialogue can be created around productive and altruistic roles. What does the child want to do career wise the rest of his/her life? To whom does s/he want to give help? The whole implication of giving to someone else has profound implications on one’s self concept. This is probably a quite novel question for most children with problems in living.

The implementation of the material on the Role/Goal Chart is to first select a goal in which the child believes s/he is not performing and has defined a goal which s/he has a reasonably high degree of confidence [over five – preferably above seven] and which s/he indicates a high level of expected satisfaction from attaining.

Strategy # 3 Goal Protocol

Another strategy is to develop a Goal Protocol which consists of three segments: goal awareness, goal inventory and goal analysis.

Goal Awareness: The beginning of any cognitive intervention is usually to make a person aware of their own thoughts. People with problems in living often will deny having any goals at all, but it should be clear that they do not act randomly.

Goal Inventory: The establishment of a list of possible goals increases the probability of establishing such goals. The initial statement of goals does not need to be a commitment. The idea is to expand the thinking through a ‘creative thinking’ [See Technique # 21] process which begins to expand goal alternatives.

For purposes of helping the child/adolescent think about the variety of goals that they can entertain, the following material might be used as a prompt. The Mentor might talk about preferences in the areas identified in Goal Domains¬[CBT#27-002] which later can be framed as goals. Depending upon the nature of the child and his/her relationships, some of this discussion might include friends and/or family members. This guide is to be used to provoke conscious thought regarding the child’s preferences for an adult life style. Goal statements are intended to identify the optimal possibilities.

It is not necessary that there be a written goal statement for each domain nor that the plan and goal statements be limited to these domains. What is important is that there be a broad based and ongoing discussion of the future of the emerging adult and that the groundwork be developed to enhance potential for emerging preferences. The plan should be renegotiated over time with the recognition that the experiences of achievement will alter the goal statements. Each achievement enhances the potential for further achievement.

Goal Analysis can be developed as a formal process in which decision making apparatus is involved. [See Kepner-Tregoe Decision Analysis]

Using the Goal Inventory, have the child list the goals in order of preferential priority on the Goal Analysis Chart [CBT#27-003].

Separating MUSTs and WANTs is important in goal analysis. What does the child insist is important and MUST happen, and what does s/he desires, but is not committed to?

Have the child add a weight to the WANTs [less +1,+2,+3,+4,+5 more] indicating that some of these WANT goals are more important to the child than others.

NOTE: You must remember to remind the child that these WANT goals are not the priority focus of the initial goal development. The MUSTs are priority.

In order to help the child understand the concept of MUSTs and WANTs the Mentor may contrast two goals regarding education. Goal A is to graduate from high school and Goal B is to go to college. A can be a want or a must in the child’s mind. However, A is certainly a MUST, if B is to be achieved at all. But neither goal should be in the hierarchy unless the child is ready to a) study, b) behave appropriately, c) attend school. These are more basic MUSTs.

Goal Selection must include a process of organizing the hierarchy of each set of goals and searching for the level of commitment at lower and lower levels. Being President of the United States starts with the study, behavior and attendance listed above. If you are not willing to address those issues, perhaps you should choose another goal.

On the one hand, one does not “pull the dream into reality”, destroying what is seen as a commitment to a goal. The helper must recognize whose decision it is and support the CHOICE. To respect the child is to give weight to his/her considered opinions and choices while refraining from obstructing his/her actions unless they are clearly detrimental to others. To show lack of respect for a decision is to repudiate the child’s considered judgements.

Step 2 Define Motivational Objectives

Goal Framing involves development of

  • specific statement(s) which define clearly what the intention requires.

The goal statement needs to be explicit in that which it hopes to attain and the methods of attainment. The goal statement needs to define the areas of confidence and the expected satisfaction. Above all the goal must be relevant to the preferences of the child.

Goals may also need to be specifically segmented to keep them proximal [or within some sense of immediacy] . The best structure for attempting the extended or long range task is to develop a series of intermediate goals that would provide an indication that performance was progressing satisfactorily. The intermediate stages for self-evaluation of progress are best set by the student themselves.

This constitutes establishing rules for the process of the activity which will need to be clearly communicated in the activity introduction. Directed practice programs will lead to more rapid and higher levels of achievement than those which allow the child permissive practice.

  • mastery statement(s) The goal should not be to have better grades than all the other children in a class, but to improve one’s own grades.

Goals should be restricted to performance expectations over which the student has control. Take particular care that the child does not have or develop goals which cannot be accomplished without the cooperation of other people.

With goals that rely on the ability of the child to control what they have to do, training and competition [tests] become contests between the student and stable pre-defined goals. A competition or training task should be a challenge to control oneself to achieve a set of defined, self oriented outcomes. In that context, students are totally responsible for what they do.

A large component of external elements which cannot be controlled produces uncertainty. Uncertainty destroys confidence and self efficacy. The resulting realization that there is not much that can be done to control what others do, decreases the motivation to perform well. One response to this realization is the child “quits” before the contest and performs in an inferior manner. Another is that a desperation contest strategy is developed and usually produces poor results.

  • affirmative statement(s) which define positive outcomes.

Goals should always be asserted in the affirmative. It is not affirmative to avoid getting into trouble – it is affirmative to act appropriately in all areas.

  • proximal statement(s) which maintain a nearness of the feedback and reward system.

Rushall, [1992] suggested that very long distant goals, such as career goals, are related to performance in that they provide standards against which current or shorter term goals can be evaluated. They have no effect upon performance of relatively immediate tasks because they function more in performance evaluation rather than performance direction. They do not direct behavior at all. They provide an adequate framework for feedback about performance progress/assessment.

  • Learning statement(s) which define the evaluative criterion for truth.

Goals should be difficult, very explicit and mixed with group-set goals. The group-set items are the framework against which the individuals establish their own aspirations. The class average may be the group-set which frames some level of achievement. As the child is able to improve to the average and above, it becomes possible to change the group-set framework to a higher level. Thus, the next goal may be to rank in the top fifty percent [above the median] if it is higher than the mean.

Develop a goal hierarchy

This process is as important as the method by which people seek coherence in their lives. The child should begin to fill out the Goal Setting Chart [CBT#27-004]. Depending upon how successful you have been with the child to this point, the columns may begin being filled in anywhere from the first to the next to last column. The Mentor is responsible for probing each entry in order to stretch it into a broader or hone it into a narrower context. Any goal statement implies a hierarchy. A simple statement of wanting to pass a test tomorrow has implications. Why? Who is affected by passing or not passing? In what way? How does this one success impact upon the rest of the life structure?

Nonetheless, it is helpful to get the child to think in terms of the future and of life in general.

Ask the child to identify the person who s/he believes has the best life philosophy and why?

Explore the child’s attitude and perspective towards this person and probe his/her thinking depth. Extend the dialogue to include an evaluation of how the selected person acts as a means of defining how s/he thinks. Extrapolating the thinking of the child along these lines may provide fragments of thinking that can be the initial components of a life philosophy. Next to a life philosophy, the most important goal is that of life’s vocation.

A vocation is not just a career, it is a life’s work. Help the child consider whether s/he intends to ‘work to live or live to work’. Serious consideration by the child of where s/he wants to be ten, fifteen or twenty years into the future is the introduction of something novel with which we hope to violate his/her habitual thinking. If the child is unable or unwilling to indicate even an area of future career, perhaps you should consider having the child try out the Discovery career exploration on a computer. The smallest inkling of an idea about future preferences will help you to shape the child’s day-to-day performance.

Immediate goals without long range planning is not likely to provide any sense of self sufficiency in life. This makes it important to address the goal setting from both ends: a long term target and immediate steps. Long term goals are not very influential although they can be easily verbalized.


Setting immediate goals does not need to be tied to long term and perhaps is easier. However, the Mentor must constantly help the child think on both the generalized level of the future and the immediate level of now. In terms of the immediate:

Ask the child if there is one thing that they wish they could change today – and set a goal in this regard.

Goal Selection must include a process of organizing the hierarchy of each set of goals and searching for the level of commitment at lower and lower levels. Being President of the United States starts with the study, behavior and attendance listed above. If you are not willing to address those issues, perhaps you should choose another goal.

Step 3 Design a motivational strategy

Implementation Strategies

If any of the columns of the Goal Setting Chart are filled in, the next step is to develop implementation strategies. The implementation strategies are the plans that are made to carry out the actions necessary to reach the defined goal. It includes anticipation and coping plans, time scheduling, specific practice routines, evaluation criterion and the like.

Mentor as Coach Once the child has set his/her goals and implementation strategies, the role of the Mentor becomes that of a Coach. It is sometimes much easier for the child to define a plan than to carry it out. The Coach is there to prod and hold accountable for practicing the fundamentals that are necessary for achievement, to reward achievement and to develop recommended solutions to unexpected problems that arise.

Anticipation and coping plans

Goal pursuit requires

  • anticipative decisions which define favorable and unfavorable situations, instrumental behavior and conflict coping tactics.
  • implementation intentions which include specified situations and intended behaviors

The anticipation of potential barriers and the planning of behaviors and tactics to address those barriers are instrumental in helping the child achieve. Some of the coping tactics may include self instruction [See Technique #21]. Thus, the child is taught to develop specific implementation intentions, anticipate problems, and outline the strategies to effectively deal with those problems.

The presence of identified problems is not a problem. It is where no problems can be identified that is a problem. The more problems we identify, the more opportunities exist.


The Mentor must help ensure that the child is focused. S/he should maintain an emphasis on the mastery focus not comparisons with others. The child must be trained to think of each test as a test against his/her own prior achievements, not against others.

Clarity of instruction

If practice behaviors are to be influenced favorably and result in meaningful experiences, each task must be fully explained and understood before they are attempted. This constitutes implementing the rules established for the process of the activity. The rules and instructions need to be clearly communicated to the child before the activity is introduced. This may include the repetition of the implementation strategy plan. Directed practice programs will lead to more rapid and higher levels of achievement than those which allow the child permissive practice.

Provide feedback

Effectiveness of performance increases when the child receives performance feedback. Performance feedback is necessary for goals to affect performance.
Feedback alone does not affect performance, nor do goals alone; it is when the two are combined that performance changes.

Practice activities should yield feedback in terms of performance information that is measurable and observable. Practice without feedback is wasted. Rules for using performance information and adjusting consequent self set goals should be established by the child, after instruction by the Mentor.

Be reminded that there appears to be a sex difference in the nature of feedback response. The Mentor needs to respond differently to the way tasks are performed depending on the sex of the individual child. The Mentor can respond to males’ success with positivism and focus on the events over which the student has control. On the other hand, the Mentor can respond similarly to females’ success, but also emphasize the errors which were made and then suggest internal control actions which could be used to correct the faults.

Providing additional knowledge

While males should be showered with positive internal attribution to self controlled events, females can handle some negative appraisal, particularly if it is related to gaining self control to remove the fault or failure in the future. It is important to have standards of evaluation.

Knowledge of results is ‘motivational’ in that it leads to goal setting, not the other way around. Correct knowledge of results is better than no knowledge or false knowledge.

Setting the schedule for personal evaluation

Following the receipt of knowledge of results requires a period of evaluation which entails the formulation of behavioral intentions linked to goals for the next behavior. Time is needed for this consideration and so repetitions should be separated by reflection intervals. It is possible to have trials too close together which do not provide time for this phenomenon to occur.

‘Raising the bar’

The performance of one trial affects the goal levels for the next trial providing the child has had the standards for evaluation and the time to reflect so that the next level of goals can be set. Generally, the greater the performance change, the higher will be the subsequent goal. Person do not normally aim for goals that their previous performance indicates would be unrealistic or non-challenging. Mentors have to be honest and realistic in performance analysis and when setting goals. Attempting to ‘motivate’ by setting ‘impossible’ goals [as perceived by the child], is unlikely to improve performance and more likely will cause performance to worsen.

Step 4 Test & revise

The process of goal setting, test, evaluation and re-setting of goals is a constantly changing endeavor. Just getting the child into this pattern will improve performance, however, as goals are achieved or not, the tasks change. The Mentor will need to find ways to ever shift the goal development to a fuller hierarchy with detail at both the broad and narrow end of the spectrum.

Steps To Consider In Goal Setting

The beginning of any cognitive intervention is usually to make a person aware of their own thoughts. People with problems in living often will deny having any goals at all, but it should be clear that they do not act randomly.

On the one hand, one does not “pull the dream into reality”, destroying what is seen as a commitment to a goal. The Mentor must recognize whose decision it is and support the child’s choice. To show lack of respect for an child’s choice is to repudiate that person’s considered judgements, to deny an individual freedom to act on those considered judgements, or to withhold information necessary to make a considered judgement.

The Mentor may reject the choice, but never the chooser; nor may s/he diminish the right to choose, except in the most severe of situations where the choice is a threat to others. This focus on empowerment must lead to a strategy which increases the power of less powerful parties and reduces the power of the more powerful. Thus, the power distance between the Mentor and the child must be diminished.

The balance of respect for choice and responsibility for supervision may appear to be difficult, but only if you believe that you must control the child. If by supervision, you understand that it is your role to influence the child’s decision- making through provision of extensive and novel information and not through power, you should find that this can be quite effective.

The Mentor must remember that s/he is additionally communicating his/her own beliefs about the adolescent’s abilities and potentials. Maintaining a positive attitude about goals is difficult if you do not believe in the possibility. There is a duty of awareness. The precondition for this most important of practices is constant research into oneself, becoming aware of one’s own thoughts, prejudices and mistakes. A person’s use of words is a gauge of his or her attitude. One cannot get rid of what has been said and done; it does not simply vanish, but continually exerts an impact.

Goal Formulation: When goals are selected, they should be formulated primarily in terms of personal mastery and preference. The goals should be framed affirmatively. There should always be more than one goal established for a classification. The intent of performing should always be to achieve a number of outcomes. The reason for establishing multiple goals should always ensure that the attainment of the majority of them is highly probable. This will produce a positive orientation towards performance with a high expectation of success. The higher the expectation of success, the better will be the performance.

The setting of goals is not a simple task. It is not purely giving the instruction to ‘make up some goals’ with the helper leaving it at that. It is a series of involved procedures that affects performance and participation in a dramatic way. Because of that it is worthwhile to take the time to establish goals with students according to the criteria that have been described and the procedures indicated. If that is not done, then goal setting will be a feature of effective teaching that has been neglected.

The exercises are interrelated and can therefore be addressed in any order – or by jumping back and forth. These are important exercises and therefore, should not be hurried in any way. There is the possibility that, with time, goals may need to be changed and so students are encouraged to plan revisions on a regular basis once s/he has mastered the skills.

In order to pull reality towards the dream, the helper will need to develop strategies and tactics to help the child develop the skills and attitudes necessary for such achievement. The vision part of the plan will now need the expertise of a professional to develop the action steps which, upon implementation, will optimize the potential for the child achieving the dream. These action steps need timelines and accountable implementation responsibilities as well as to identify, articulate and gain commitment from the child/parent on their contribution to the actions to be taken. Thus, the Comprehensive Goal Hierarchy has four major parts:

  1. goal statement,
  2. action plan,
  3. responsibility and time chart, and
  4. contract.

It is important to develop strategies that support the preferred goal hierarchy of the child. This is not to assume that these preferences will not change over time. Such change is expected. The purpose of the preferences is two fold: first, to assure the motivation of the child to make change and, second to focus on the future.

Making a task experience “interesting” and enjoyable will make participation satisfying but will not increase the level of training productivity or achievement. It only affects motivation to participate and removes a possible reason for complaint. Performance changes will only come from goal setting.

Goal Domains

Family: What is the relationship to the present family and how does it coincide with desires for a future family. Is it likely, hoped, expected that the child will marry and have children, and if so, how will that family relate to the present family of parents and siblings? What supports would be necessary to make this work? If the child is unlikely to marry and/or have children, what is the potential for continuing relationships to siblings. What are the goals regarding the family and family life that make sense.

Social: What is the present personal support network [unrelated adult, best friend, peer group, etc.] and how might it expand? The assurance of a personal support group is an important aspect of adult life particularly for people who need cognitive, emotional and or behavioral support. While it is possible to be a loner, this requires a very strong personality and personal self sufficiency.

An important social concern is the emerging adult’s right to intimacy, dating and sexuality. For the child who is presently displaying emotional and behavioral disorders, intimacy is a significant issue for discussion.

Educational: What are the educational goals of the child. Will there be academic or technical learning beyond high school? What special preparation will be needed to make this involvement have satisfactory outcome?

Employment: What is the likelihood of work and what type of work is preferred? What training is necessary? Has a full vocational evaluation been done or is it planned. Has the adolescent had the opportunity to use computer programming to help identify areas of work interest? What technical training is necessary to assure that the child is prepared for employment within the area of preferred choice.

Health: Are there medical issues that can be predicted? How can these best be addressed? Is the child capable of learning health, nutrition and hygiene adequately enough to be self sufficient?

Psychology: What emotional supports are necessary for the emerging adult as s/he and the family age? If the child is reliant on his/her family for emotional support, what happens when the family is no longer capable of such support? How can s/he plan to provide such support in the future?

Legal: Are there legal issues that need to be addressed? Does the child display or demonstrate the potential of criminal behavior? What supports can be built in to help the child take responsibility for these issues? Are there other kinds of legal issues to be addressed [trusts, suits, etc]?

Safety: If the child has medical, physical or emotional limitations which place them in potential danger, what supports are necessary to ameliorate such hazard?

Home: Are there physical requirements to future living arrangements? Who would the child prefer to live with now and in the future? What kinds of locations, homes are preferred [urban, suburban, rural]? Does the child choose to learn how to care for a home and be self sufficient that their own personal environment?

Mobility: Many of the above domains demand the ability to get to and from places. What requirements need to be fulfilled to assure that the child will be able to be adequately mobile to participate in the community, work, worship and play?

Personal: The ability to care for oneself, handle financial matters, schedule and use time effectively, relate interpersonally, use time alone effectively, etc. are significant contributors to a quality life style. What are the child’s strengths and weakness and how should s/he plan to adequately deal with these issues as an adult. What is the child’s spiritual identification?

Community: Independent people use community resources such as libraries, shopping centers, recreational facilities, voting areas and the like as everyday events. Emerging adults need to learn how to use the community resources effectively.