How to Write Mental Health Objectives

Writing effective objectives is a critical component of mental health therapy. Mental health objectives help you monitor your progress and demonstrate treatment success. Many third-party payers, such as insurance companies, require appropriate mental health goals, objectives and proof of progress to continue payment for services. Lack of progress toward reaching objectives also indicates that a particular approach is unproductive and allows you and your therapist to discuss ways to adapt or change the approach to improve success.

    • 1

      Talk with your therapist about your problem behaviors and agree upon which behavior to target. Write it down. Your targeted behavior should be specific and directly related to an overall treatment goal. It must also be measurable in some way. For example, someone who enters treatment for depression may desire to target negative thinking or a person being treated for anxiety may need to target hand-wringing.

    • 2

      Write the condition in which your behavior occurs. The condition is when, where or how your behavior happens. For example, if you often have worried thoughts when you are in public, state that the condition is "in public." If a person with depression has negative thoughts throughout the day in various situations, write the condition as "across settings" or "in all situations."

    • 3

      List the criteria you and your therapist will use to measure your behavior. The most common measures are percentages of time or frequency. To set your criteria, look at how often your behavior happens now and increase that frequency by small increments. For example, if you have anxious or worried thoughts 50 percent of the time, an appropriate criteria might be 75 percent of the time. Don't use 100 percent as your criteria as few behaviors happen 100 percent of the time.

    • 4

      Combine your three components into one written statement. An example of a complete mental health objective is "Sally will reduce angry outbursts at school four of five days per week." Your objective should be specific to your needs, measurable and reachable within a certain period of time. For example, if your progress is going to be reassessed every three months, your objective should be possible to meet within that period of time.

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