Goals set the direction of work to be done.
They are what clients hope to achieve
working with practitioner.
Goals must be mutually established
between practitioners and clients.
Satisfactory work depends on practitioner’s
ability to collaborate with the client.
Questions that seek clarification help clients
figure out what goals they are motivated to
Exception-finding questions are useful.
Explore times when the problem was not present.
Times when the problem was smaller or less
Measureable and Specific goals
Make it possible for clients and practitioners to
evaluate changes that have been made.
Provides a clear direction and focus for work.
“I want to lose weight so I will go to the gym
three times this week.”
“I want to get better grades so I will write
down each assignment I get this week.”
“I want to become sober so I will attend one
AA meeting this week.”
“I want more friends so I will sit next to two
different people in each of my classes.”
A goal needs to be something the client believes
is possible based on available resources such as
time, money, and people power.
Establishing a series of small goals helps clients
Important that the size of goal seems attainable
to client and reasonable to the practitioner.
Unattainable goals involve changing another
Time to reach the goal must be relatively
proximate to decision to change.
Clients who participate in setting goals are more
likely to believe goals are achievable.
Goals should be visualized in concrete, specific,
“Your goal is to lose 15 lbs. Would it be
reasonable to lose 1 and a half pounds this
“Your goal is turn your homework in on time.”
“Would it be reasonable to set aside an hour an
evening to do homework for this class?”
“Your goal is to attend AA meetings. Would it
be reasonable to acquire a list of local meetings
Keeps the focus on what the client wants to do
rather than what client doesn’t want to do.
Practitioners can use open-ended questions to
help clients to think in positive terms.
“I want to lose weight so today I will eat at
least two servings of fruit.”
“I want to turn my homework in on time so
today I will review all the work I need to turn
in this week.”
“I want to make two new friends so today I
will say ‘hi’ to five people.”
“This week I will go to class and write down
my homework assignments.”(Short term goal)
“This semester I will raise my grades one
level.” (Long term goal)
“This week I will speak with three new
people.” (Short term goal)
“This semester I will make two new
friends.”(Long term goal)
Moving from general to specific goals
Practitioners may decide to approach agreement
on problems and goals differently.
Some practitioners prefer more general goals.
Working on one goal often relates to other goals.
Many practitioners find it helpful to establish a
written or verbal agreement that describes
previous understandings between them and
These agreements are developed
collaboratively and can be modified as
A good alliance involves a safe, trusting,
comfortable, collaborative relationship.
Includes an agreement between the practitioner
and client about the goals.
These set the stage for monitoring work
There are many valid and reliable scales for
measuring the alliance.
There are also scales for measuring the
outcome of a session or series of sessions with
The Goal Attainment Scale
5-point scale that ranges from most to least favorable
outcomes that client believes are possible.
Can be used to identify the level of progress
achieved either during the course of work together
or at the end.
Using the GAS for each MAPS goal can be helpful.
“I want to lose 15 lbs.”
“This week I will eat 2 servings of fruit each day.”
“Next week I will make an appointment to join a
“The following week I will attend the gym and 3
“The next week I will continue at the gym and eating
fruit and weigh myself to see if I have lost any weight.
If not I will join Weight Watchers. Etc.”
Further exploration of the problem
Learn specifics such as where problem occurs, who
is involved, what are the immediate antecedents and
consequences and what meanings are attributed to
Explore the situation and environment.
Understanding the environment can require further
exploration of the family, neighborhood, school,
agency, significant groups and organizations, as well
as the culture, race and socioeconomic class of the
Steps identified by clients
Involve clients in developing an action plan.
Strengthens working relationship and teaches clients
In families and groups all need to contribute.
Ask clients which steps they see as difficult.
Steps suggested by one member of the family or
group may seem easy to one and not to others.
The steps must be small enough that everyone can
feel like they can work on the issue.
Using exception-finding questions to identify
Past successes can help identify steps and strengths.
Similar to goal-setting process.
Practitioner might say, “Recall a time when the
problem did not occur and let’s identify what you
were doing at the time.”
Action steps can be developed using MAPS process
to develop ways to make the changes desired.
Brainstorm as many steps as possible without
Evaluate each possible step.
Organize steps by prioritizing what is first,
Clients need to see value in each step.
Essential to work with clients on how they can
use their strengths and capacities and resources
at each step.
Need to think about other times when they
have faced new tasks.
Organizing and creating incremental steps
helps ensure success and help client to gain
This process also teaches clients the process of
creating plans to achieve goals.
Evaluate whether client is satisfied with
Reuse monitoring system established in goal
Little progress may relate to whether goals
were attainable or highly valued.
Progress may seem slower to practitioner.
Emphasize positive steps.
“After talking to your boss, how did your feel
“Will you tell us about what you did that made
things go better this week in your family?”
“We have been working together for a few
weeks now. Let’s focus on what we have
Can convey information.
New information might help clients achieve their
Can take place in session, workshops, etc.
Teaching might involve diversity issues, resolving
conflicts, making decisions, and/or leading a group.
Role playing or rehearsing can be useful.
Practicing a new behavior in a safe environment
Doing something new or taking a new direction can
An example might be “Imagine you are talking to
your wife now. Tell her what you want her to
“I notice you are directing your comments to me in
the group. Would you look at several others while
you are sharing?”
Giving homework such as “Between now and our
next session will you keep track of one thing you do
for yourself each day?”
Inviting a different perspective
Invites clients to see experiences, feelings, thoughts,
behaviors or situations in a new way. (“Maybe his
disruptive behavior in class is an indication that he is
Can increase success in achieving action steps.
Can use questions to invite clients to see things
Encourage clients to think about something they
Similar to confrontation.
Usually involves a behavior that is moving client
away not toward a desired behavior.
Some times the therapist might say:
“You’re talking about being scared, but you’re
“Previously it seemed like we had reached an
agreement, and now I hear you are not ready to do
“You said you wanted your son to move home but you
are also shaking your head ‘no.’”
Discrepancies can include:
What a client is saying or doing and what the
practitioner is noticing.
What the client is saying and what the practitioner
heard the client say another time.
What the client is saying in the meeting and the client’s
actions outside the meeting.
What the client says is important or is the goal and
Stating what the practitioner sees and hears.
Sharing an awareness of what clients are showing
nonverbally or expressing in their tone of voice.
Groups and families members can be invited to give
“I notice that you are smiling.”
“You look like you are about to cry.”
“I notice your hands are clenched.”
“I think the team is beginning to agree as I see heads nodding.”
Used to share personal information, observations,
and opinions to give the client a different perspective
or offer and illustration or example.
The information may be about the practitioner’s
personal experience or his/her experience of the
Only used when relationship is strong.
Goals of self-disclosure
Enhance or preserve the relationship.
Practitioners needs do not take precedence.
Used for the benefit of the client.
Ethical concern of self-disclosure
Can be a way of subtly including personal values into the
Responding to direct and personal questions
What led the client to ask the questions?
Is it an effort to change the relationship to something less
A question may be a way of asking for advice.
Self-disclosure can enhance the genuineness of the
Practitioner commenting on what seems to be
happening currently in the relationship.
Can help the client understand other relationships.
Involves the practitioner sharing his/her own
thoughts and feelings.
It is about what is happening in the moment with
“When you look away from me as you share a feeling I
wonder if you are afraid I will judge you?”
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