We have all been there, trying to figure out what is the best way to do good goal writing…why is this sometimes so hard? 😕  ugh

See, I was randomly looking through the Occupational Therapy Treatment Ideas & Information Facebook page the other day (it is a HUGE group with tons of ideas!), when I came across a post about an OT that was talking about difficult it was for her to write goals beyond the typical ADL.

So I wanted dig in and explore what are some of the most common reasons that goal writing is such a pain in our butt, what we need to do in order to make our goals more skilled and client centered, and share some of my favorite resources (including the OT Goal Writing and Goal Bank for adults ebook and Workbook – a complete must have to write rock solid, client-centered OT goals).

Worried that your goals will be denied? I can help you write client centered and measurable occupational therapy goals!

Let’s dig into why OT goal writing can be challenging:


Problem 1: We are limited by the electronic medical record we use.


Demonstrating how difficult it is to write good OT goals with dropdown menus

Let’s be honest, we are at the mercy of the software that we are given!

It is hard when all you are doing is trying to write goals based on the information that you have collected during your evaluation, but all you end up doing is navigating through endless dropdowns and trying to “fit” your patient into the software.

Trouble writing OT goals?


Problem 2: There are many different ways to actually accomplish goal writing.


It seems like every OT setting, facility and school has a different way of teaching this, with some of the most common being:

SMART: Significant, Measurable, Achievable, Relates to person, Time based
RHUMBA: Relevant, How long, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral, Achievable

COAST (my all time fav): Client, Occupation, Assist level, Specific, Time bound



Problem 3: We aren’t always taught (or maybe it just gets lost over time 😕) to use outcome measures or use our initial evaluations to guide our goals.


We end up writing goals that are:

  • not the most client-centered,
  • hard to achieve,
  • using too many measurements to make the goal difficult to achieve or
  • labeled as “not functional.’

“NEEDS SOME IMPROVEMENT” GOAL 😱 (wayyyy to many conditions to actually meet):

Within 2 weeks, the patient will perform upper body dressing (UB) independently (I) with use of adaptive equipment (AE) while sitting edge of bed (EOB) with “good” dynamic sitting balance.


Within 2 weeks, the patient will perform UB dressing (I) with “good” dynamic sitting balance.

Here are 3 tips to get you going on writing goals that are more client-centered and writing goals so you don’t have to fear they will be denied:


#1️⃣: Use outcome measures in your goals

#2️⃣: Get a good understanding of what should actually be in a Long Term and Short Term Goals

#3️⃣: Do not write goals on occupations or components that are not a part of your evaluation

I shared these tips in much greater detail via Facebook on Sunday night, so if you missed it, click here to see the video breakdown of the 3 tips.

OT Goal Writing Tips: #1️⃣: Use objective measures in your goals #2️⃣: Get a good understanding of what should actually be in a Long Term and Short Term Goals #3️⃣: Do not write goals on occupations or components that are not a part of your evaluation

Be sure to check out the Occupational Therapy Goal Writing, Objective Measures + Goal Bank (for adults!) and Workbook that gives practical tips and instruction for goal setting in an easy to follow format, provides outcome measure examples for a variety of goals plus a bank of short term goals and long term goal examples for performance components and diagnoses such as:
  • BADL
  • IADL
  • Performance components of occupational therapy practice
  • Specialized areas such as:
    • chronic conditions
    • dementia
    • low vision
    • maintenance therapy
    • progressive diseases and more!
Learn easy OT goal writing, outcome measures and goal bank of examples!
I also wanted to share some other posts that might be helpful on your goal writing journey including:

✍️ Goal Writing for Patients with Dementia That Have Adverse Behaviors

✍️ General Goal Writing Tips

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