Setting Goals

When I first meet with brain-injured patients, I ask them to tell me about their goals.  In most cases, the patients will tell me about goals involving work and home.  These goals have to do with the long term,  future hopes of the patient.  These goals make fine targets to aim for but they often miss something important.  In order to accomplish these long term goals, short and intermediate term goals must first be reached.  Short and intermediate term goals are the important building blocks that allow a patient to achieve those hopes and desires.  I often find it useful to perform an exercise with patients in which they set short, intermediate and long term goals.  This is an easy task to do at home but can be quite valuable in assessing reasonable expectations and recognizing steps needed in the pursuit of recovery.

For the task, one simply needs to take a piece of paper and divide it into three sections.  The first section is for short term goals; these are goals that can be achieved within one month.  The second section is for intermediate term goals; these g0als should be attainable within six months.  The third section is for long term goals which the patient should be able to achieve within one year.  Sometimes it is helpful to add a fourth section for goals that can be achieved within three months.

It is generally useful for the patient to complete this task with another person.   This person should be familiar enough with the patient’s circumstance in order to be able to offer guidance in recognizing limitations in the patient’s ability to achieve a given goal within a certain time frame and also to recognize achievable goals that may have been forgotten.  Some family members may also want to complete this task for themselves as it can enhance involvement in the planning of their loved one’s treatment and can offer a better understanding of the likely path of rehabilitation.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

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